By Associated Press - Sunday, August 23, 2015

PALISADE, Colo. (AP) - Mesa County engineers say a rebuilt highway between Palisade and East Orchard Mesa is safe, even though parts of the highway began shifting and a retaining wall had to be built to keep asphalt from sliding down a hill.

The $2.1 million project was hailed as a significant improvement in safety for motorists and bicyclists alike when it was dedicated earlier this month. By then, the hill had already begun moving, opening up several large cracks in the fresh asphalt.

Mesa County engineers and the general contractor on the project are trying to stabilize a retaining wall that began failing even before dignitaries shook hands and posed for photos.

Jim Nall, the interim engineering director for the county, said it’s not unusual to have some movement on a highway. “What is surprising and concerning is how much and how fast (the road has moved),” he said.

Nall said the foundation for the retaining wall was built on ground that wasn’t as stable as expected, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported (

The wall is sinking and pulling the road with it. Several fissures have developed in the blacktop, and the road has separated in places from the concrete curb that was built alongside a 10-foot detached sidewalk.

Hayley Hughes, the office manager for Dirtworks Construction, the general contractor on the project, said the firm first learned about the problems two days before the county officially marked the opening of the road.

Cameron Lobato, an engineer, said workers will be on the clock seven days a week trying to stabilize the hillside. He expects the work to take two weeks to complete.


Information from: The Daily Sentinel,

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