Rock slide causes road closure of popular Four Corners route

Created: 01/24/2014 6:42 PM
By: Devin Neeley, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The stretch of road between Silverton, Colorado and Ouray is U.S. Route 550 and is known to locals as the Million Dollar Highway. The road has been closed for almost two weeks.

"We understand it’s a huge inconvenience. We understand this is a hardship on everybody, we are going to get the highway open as soon and as safely as possible,” Said Vance Kelso Supervisor for Highway Maintenance for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

And as rocks still fall on Red Mountain Pass, the Colorado Department of Transportation works to mitigate the risk with explosives, helicopters and heavy gauge steel mesh. In the meantime, in Silverton, businesses owners are feeling the hurt.

Mark Watson, owner of Silverton Grocery says, "Business is down, [there is] no drive through traffic."

Today, Watson is working on gutters rather than helping customers.

“Well this is the slow time of year and any time you are down it makes it hurt more, hurts cash flow, hurts you know, but the bills go on," said Watson.

To the close to 500 year-round residents of Silverton, tourism is the main source of income.

"The mine closed in 1991, so we have been 22 years plus without major industry employing people year-round,” according to Director of the Silverton Chamber of Commerce, Rose Raab.

Raab says businesses are reporting 50 to 75 percent less business while the pass is closed. But even during a dry winter, residents and business people in this tiny mountain town remain hopeful.

"Just want to get the town back open, get people coming here again. We are already in a hurting economy with the job situation, we need everything we can get," said Watson.

Officials have no expected date for the pass to reopen. 

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