This week, the San Juan National Forest will begin a $500,000 road maintenance and travel management project in the Bolam Pass and Tin Can Basin areas of the Dolores and Columbine Ranger districts.
The projects will affect Forest Service Roads 578, 578.B and 149, and the East Fork and Colorado Trails. Work will begin Sept. 19
Vehicles and camp trailers will need to vacate these work areas beginning Sept. 14 so that work can begin. Signs informing the public of the project will be installed this week.
Forest Road 578 is known in different places along its length as the Hermosa Park Road, Bolam Pass Road and Barlow Road. The road will not be closed during construction, but travelers should be prepared for delays and heavy equipment.
The much-needed road maintenance will occur along 12 miles of the road that has become degraded, said Cody Jones, San Juan National Forest engineer.
On the Columbine Ranger District (Purgatory) side, aggregate gravel will be added to 3 miles of the road beginning at the intersection of the Hotel Draw Road.
On the Dolores Ranger District (Colorado Highway 145) side, maintenance will be done for 9 miles, including along a section where the road passes through a scree field.
The native, four-wheel drive road surface will remain on the Dolores District side. Drainage features will be improved or replaced to prevent water from flowing down the road.
The intent is to “stabilize the road for long-term use and minimize erosion,” Jones said.
The project is in a remote area of the forest and has been on the deferred maintenance list for many years, he said. Implementation was helped out by $97,000 in funding from the Great American Outdoors Act.
Two short road spurs will be affected by the project as part of the implementation of the 2018 Rico-West Dolores Travel Management decision.
Road 578B (Tin Can Basin Road) will be decommissioned beyond mile post 0.1. It will continue to be used as the East Fork Trail No. 638, which is a single-track motorized trail (open to motorcycles, ebikes, and non-motorized users). The Colorado Trail (Segment 25) also shares 0.75 miles of the alignment.
Road 149, a short spur, will be permanently closed beyond mile post 0.3.
The changes to the two roads were made as part of the travel management decision to protect wetlands and fens in the area, said forest recreation planner Tom Rice.
Work on the road project this year will last until snowfall and be concluded in the spring. Road and trail users should expect short delays, as well as rough and unfinished road and trail conditions throughout the duration of the project.
Visitors should expect to see heavy equipment in use and should use caution when traveling through construction zones. Motorized use, other than single-track motorcycle or ebike use, is prohibited on Road 578.B beyond mile post 0.1, and all motorized use is prohibited on Road 149 beyond mile post 0.3.
Two other trails in the Rico area are being improved as part of the implementation of the 2018 Rico-West Dolores Travel Management plan, Rice said.
The non-motorized Ryman Creek Trail is being rerouted with switchbacks to allow for an easier climb to the Divide Road. The improvement expected to be completed this fall opens up loop rides for mountain bikers.
Improvements are also being made on the 2.5-mile non-motorized Circle Trail which connects Rico to the Colorado Trail via the Silver Creek drainage.