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Flash-flood protocol change may mean fewer Ute Pass closures this summer

       The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has changed its protocol for Highway 24 in Ute Pass when there is a threat of a summer flash flood.
       A press release states the following:
       “When a flash flood warning is forecast by the National Weather Service, or when rainfall and ground saturation conditions warrant, CDOT maintenance crews will be dispatched to three locations along the corridor - at Cave of the Winds Road, at Cascade and in the Green Mountain Falls area. However, CDOT will not preemptively close the highway. Crews will remain in place and if flooding or debris flow begins to impact the highway, it will immediately be closed to all traffic.”
       Last summer's protocol had required closing the highway in Ute Pass whenever the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the Waldo Canyon burn-scar area or when rain gauges there recorded a quarter-inch of rain.
       “We understood the preemptive closures were creating a hardship for residents and businesses alike to the west of Colorado Springs so we reviewed how best to still keep traffic moving without compromising public safety,” the press release quotes CDOT Regional Transportation Director Karen Rowe. “We believe this new protocol is the best option for everybody who travels Highway 24.”
       The press release continues that, in a storm, “a plow truck will continuously travel up and down the corridor for monitoring purposes, ensuring water or debris flow is remaining off the roadway. If the highway needs to be closed, CDOT and the Colorado State Patrol will then sweep the corridor to ensure there are no individuals and/or vehicles remaining in the closure area.
       “Before the highway is reopened to traffic, CDOT will assess the condition of the roadway, making sure any storm-related debris has been removed and the highway is safe for travel.
       "This protocol continues through September 30."

Westside Pioneer/press release
(Posted 5/1/15; Transportation: Major Roads)

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