A rainstorm late last week provided the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for a section of County Road 359, located in the southeast portion of Archuleta County, near Edith.
A collapsed culvert buried under 10 feet of fill dirt caused an estimated 20 to 25-foot section of the road to wash out, leaving behind an impassable gap either Friday night or Saturday morning.
With the bottom portion weakened over time, last week’s rain storm was enough to cause the culvert to collapse from the bottom up.
Public Works Director Ken Feyen said it appeared that the culvert was not installed to current standards and had no endwall protection. The lack of endwall protection allowed the material to wash away gradually over, likely, a 5-15 year span, weakening the bottom and allowing it to collapse.
“It certainly was not a onetime event that caused this,” Feyen said.
Though a handful of county residents live on the road, none were stranded due to the incident.
While the materials for the rebuild have been ordered, Feyen noted that reconstruction of the road will have to wait until the snowmelt tapers off, perhaps in June.
According to Feyen, the culvert is still running about half full, and county crews will not be able to start to reconstruct the road until that water level lowers. A spring that feeds through the culvert will be diverted during the reconstruction.
Instead of rebuilding using another 10-foot diameter culvert, which Feyen sees as inadequate, two eight-foot culverts will be installed, and to higher standards than the previous.
A total cost has not yet been estimated.
“It’s going to be an extensive rebuild,” Feyen said. “It’s probably going to take anywhere from two to four weeks.”
Until the road is reopened, residents living on the east side of the closure can continue using C.R. 359 to reach U.S. 84, while those on the west side can use C.R. 391 to reach U.S. 84 at Chromo.