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July 22, 2019

Road Crew Working to Open Hinsdale Side Engineer Pass


Hinsdale Road & Bridge is putting all its efforts into clearing snow to open the Hinsdale side of both Cinnamon and Engineer Passes, and this side of Engineer Pass is open to the summit as of Tuesday, July 9.
Although the Hinsdale County side of Engineer Pass will be open, Ouray County Road & Bridge is slowed by a major slide with debris about a mile up on the Engineer Pass approach from U.S. Highway 50. Christy Williams, Ouray Road & Bridge Administrative Assistant, says the slide should be cleared by the end of next week.
Hinsdale Road Superintendent JoAllen Blowers says snow conditions on both Engineer and Cinnamon are “slushy” with recent warm temperatures. In addition to generally wet snow conditions, Blowers says significant snow drifts are being cut to clear County Roads 20 and 30 up the passes.
The snow drift on the top of Engineer Pass is 60’ deep, according to Blowers; as of Monday this week, Engineer was cleared to within 50 yards of the summit. Equipment breakdowns on Cinnamon Pass have delayed its opening as local road personnel
work to clear County 30 from American Basin on up the pass.
In addition to the two well-known passes, Hinsdale Road & Bridge has now opened the Wager Gulch Road to New Carson, and Nellie Creek is also open but rough. Blowers says a quarter mile section of the Nellie Creek road three-quarters of a mile up the creek was badly washed out by Nellie Creek. The creek has now returned to its banks and the 4-wheel drive road roughly graded.
Excavator operator Johnny Bebout, aided by new seasonal worker Terry Wootonn, opened the Cottonwood Gulch Road above Sherman last week after clearing through a total of four avalanche slides. Opening the Cottonwood Gulch access — similar to other slides encountered in the high country this spring — was complicated by an excessive amount of tree debris which the avalanches brought down.
Hinsdale County has yet to start clearing North Henson Creek, although as reported last week, private landowners in that vicinity have begun clearing a single lane track up North Henson through trees and snow. As of July 4, the single lane track had been extended as far up valley as Mary Alice Creek.

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