Berthoud Pass traffic holds Thursday, expect delays |

Berthoud Pass traffic holds Thursday, expect delays

Sky-Hi News Staff Report

Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced today that helicopter operations are scheduled on Berthoud Pass beginning at 9 a.m. to mid-day on Thursday, March 10. CDOT crews will perform routine maintenance on the Gazex system. As part of the operation, a helicopter will be used to transport supplies to the Stanley slide area. Intermittent, 20 minute traffic holds should be expected from mile marker 247 to 250.

CDOT purchased the $450,000 Gazex avalanche prevention system in 2014. It was installed in 2015 on the Stanley Slide Path, a large avalanche path that crosses U.S. Highway 40 in two places.

The French-made Gazex system detonates an oxygen-propane mixture in individually designed exploder tubes located at the top of avalanche risk zones. The exploders are connected to gas storage tanks. When the gas mixture explodes, the force of the explosion is directed toward the snow, producing a direct push into the snowpack under the open end of the exploder. The resulting shockwave lifts up the snow, causing it to slide. This remote-controlled Gazex system is considered to be more effective and safer than other avalanche control systems, according to company representatives.

Gazex units are installed on Teton Pass connecting Idaho to Jackson Hole, Wyo., on the highway connecting Incline Village to Reno, Nev., and in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah.

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