A $2.9 million rockfall mitigation project on Highway 74 between Idledale and Morrison kicks off this week.

There will be partial closures beginning Wednesday and full closures starting next Sept. 8. Full closures will occur during working hours — between 4:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Friday.

The Colorado Department of Transportation expects the work to continue through February 2021, though the work is dependent on the weather and temperature. Drivers can take Myers Gulch Road in Kittredge to U.S. 285 or South Grapevine Road in Idledale to Interstate 70 as a detour.

“The project will enhance safety for motorists, cyclists and other recreationists along CO 74 with a goal of preventing roadway damage or unexpected closures caused by a natural rockslide,” CDOT spokesperson Presley Fowler said.

She said the CDOT geohazards team evaluated the canyon and decided that proactive mitigation and scaling of loose rocks was necessary to avoid unplanned rockfall, which would be dangerous and impact traffic. Crews use hand scaling and various machinery while doing this work. They install anchored wire mesh and other reinforcement as well as polyurethane resin injections to help fill the void between loose rocks and preserve the natural contours and shape of the canyon.

“Due to the nature of rockfall mitigation, full closures must occur for the safety of the traveling public,” Fowler added. “This part of CO 74 is a narrow canyon with limited areas for crews to maneuver equipment.”

Additionally, she added that the rock scaling operation could result in rockfall on the roadway.

For more information, call the project hotline at 720-572-4476 or by email at CO74Rockfall@gmail.com.