Spring melt damages road near Parachute

Garfield County says spring melt and unstable ground have caused Parachute Creek Road to heave about four feet upward for several hundred feet about 6.5 miles north of Parachute.

Damage dates back at least as far as mid-February, but an adjacent hillside is continuing to move and threaten the road, said county spokeswoman Renelle Lott. Meanwhile, travel can’t occur on the road itself, but vehicles are able to use a one-lane, dirt bypass on the shoulder.

The road, County Road 215, is heavily used by the oil and gas industry.

Oil and gas companies are working with county road and sheriff’s employees to monitor the situation.

The current damage is just past the Garden Gulch turnoff, and is marked with cones and lighted message boards. Repairs are expected to take months and can’t begin until the hillside stabilizes, and the county is encouraging motorists to avoid the route if possible. Lott said only one residence is on the road past the damaged area, and it is owned by an energy company.

Last week, a collapsed slope that also may be linked to moist soils caused a buried WPX Energy 16-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline to rupture southeast of Parachute, leaking gas for about a half-hour before it could be shut down and temporary repairs could be made.

Lott said a pipeline belonging to another company was shut down alongside Parachute Creek Road as a precaution due to the damage there but didn’t leak. It remains shut down, she said.

She said there are no cost estimates for the road repairs yet because the full extent of the damage can’t be determined until the hillside stops moving and the threat to the road ends.


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