Hazardous tree removal project under way on local highways | SummitDaily.com

Hazardous tree removal project under way on local highways

Paige Blankenbuehler
summit daily news
Special to the Daily/U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Department of Transportation are well under way with a tree removal project that will continue through September.

Motorists can expect to see crews working along Highway 40 over Berthoud Pass, Interstate 70 and Highway 125.

No roads will be closed to public operations, but lane closures and temporary delays for public safety are possible.

Cutting began along the south sides of the I-70 corridor for 31 miles in July, the work is in the final stages of completion.

Continuing through the first week in September, cutting along U.S. 40 near Empire, tree removal is scheduled for 27 miles toward Winter Park.

Tree removal along Hwy. 125 will begin in September between Stillwater Pass Road and Willow Creek Pass and continue for 14 miles, ending near Rand.

The trees present along these highways pose a threat to public safety as they weaken over time and may fall without warning along busy transportation routes, said Carl Wettstien, incident commander of bark beetle for the Forest Service.

“Public safety is our top priority,” Wettstien said. “In addition to reducing the risk of falling trees that may damage critical infrastructure, ensuring these major transportation corridors are clear of dead trees is certainly critical to keeping people safe and traffic flowing.”

Most of the work will be on national forest system lands within the CDOT right-of-way in the counties of Summit, Grand, Eagle, Clear Creek and Jackson located in the Arapaho-Roosevelt, Routt and White River national forests.

“With so many dead trees near highways, crews will be working in the right-of-ways, but will try to keep lane closures to a minimum,” said David Eller, CDOT regional transportation director. “We ask motorists to drive slowly and carefully through the work zones and we thank them for their patience since this work is essential to public safety.”

Motorists should expect to see piles of debris close to right-of-ways including trunks, tree-tops and limbs piled on project sites in addition to stacks of log decks.

Woods products removed will be used by the wood products industry.

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