Washed-out road repairs to begin
Utah site a popular tourist draw
Construction to repair the steep, switch-backed Mineral Bottom Road in Grand County, Utah, will start next week, barely five months after the road was washed out by powerful storms.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is taking charge of rebuilding the road, which is considered to be a significant part of the Moab, Utah, tourism economy.
“I am just amazed,” Grand County Administrator Melinda Brimhall said. “To have had this storm in August and five months later start reconstruction is pretty amazing.”
Mineral Bottom Road, which leads to a popular put-in and take-out on the Colorado River, was washed out Aug. 19 when a wave of powerful storms crossed over Utah and Colorado.
Mineral Bottom Road leads down from the White Rim Trail to the river, where tours run through Stillwater Canyon in Canyonlands National Park.
It’s also the drop-off point for runs through Labyrinth Canyon that begin upstream in Green River, Utah.
It will be nearly impossible to restore the road to its previous condition, so the work isn’t being done for a fixed price, Brimhall said.
Engineers are “a little bit stumped” on how to proceed, Brimhall said. “There are so many things they can’t anticipate.”
Federal, state and local officials recognized the need to get work under way as soon as possible, Brimhall said.
Mineral Bottom Road is on federal land, which means reconstruction “is accelerating what the county could have done by months, if not even a year,” Brimhall said.
Soon after the storm, which also was tied to destruction in Hotchkiss and loosening boulders in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, the Bureau of Land Management estimated repairs would cost about $2.5 million.
Leaving the road closed, however, would could cost the Grand County tourism industry as much as $5 million annually, the BLM said.
KSUE Construction of Moab is the contractor on the reconstruction.
During the construction process, access will be restricted, and no public admittance will be allowed.