Cow Creek takes a big bite out of Routt County Road 45 |

Cow Creek takes a big bite out of Routt County Road 45

Cow Creek has subsided since inundating a large culvert beneath Routt County Road 45 and then attacking a smaller culvert where it gouged a chunk out of the dirt road. The county has closed the road to vehicles, bicycles and hikers while repairs are underway.
Tom Ross

— Cow Creek, where it flows off the west side of Emerald Mountain, has calmed down this week, but the damage to Routt County Road 45 has already been done, taking one early season mountain biking option, the Ridge Trail, out of play.

“Routt County Road 45 is closed (to vehicles, bicycles and hikers),” Road and Bridge field coordinator Geovanny Romero said Sunday. “There’s a big washout of the road from Cow Creek itself, and culverts have washed out. We’ve been trying to repair the road, but the more people who try to get up there, the harder it is to maintain it.”

A Routt County Road and Bridge road grader driven by Ross Hammond was working Sunday afternooon to prepare a wet section of the county road, but that was just a precursor to the main repair where the creek gouged a gap in the dirt road big enough to swallow a small SUV.

There was some solace for mountain bikers who may not get access to the Ridge Trail any time soon, and perhaps not the Beall Trail, even when it has dried sufficiently. Routt County Riders reported on its Facebook page that several trails accessed via Blackmer Drive have just opened on the front side of Emerald Mountain in Steamboat Springs.

NPR is open from Larry’s down. And although there is a report that Bluff’s is muddy, both it and Upper Lupine are open.

Cow Creek, which shrinks to a trickle by late summer, inundated a large culvert more than a week ago and then flowed down a shallow barrow ditch and wiped out a smaller backup culvert. And that’s where the road was damaged.

Romero said debris swept along by the sediment-loaded creek had compromised the culverts meant to protect the road.

There are no homes above Cow Creek on C.R. 45, and it’s uncertain when repair will be complete. Romero said C.R. 45 is classified as “low maintenance” and gets bladed once or twice a year.

“Right now, we’re going to repair some culverts and clean the ditches,” Romero said.

Trouble eleswhere

County Manager Tom Sullivan also confirmed Monday that a short section of Routt County Road 27 about 2 miles north of Routt County Road 29 has slumped again. The stretch of road is between Middle Creek and Trout Creek.

Consulting engineers have viewed the problem area where a 40-foot-wide section of road has slumped. The road remains open, but drivers are advised to proceed slowly.

Consulting engineers are studying the problem, which has already undergone one costly repair, Sullivan added.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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