A blocked culvert on Ingram Creek caused severe flooding near Bridal Veil Falls on County Road K69 Sunday afternoon. Without the culvert to regulate the water, the river overflowed and transformed the road into a moving stream. At its peak, the entire area was covered by more than 4 feet of water. The San Miguel Sheriff’s Office closed the road to all public access as the water raged.
The powerful surge of water washed away the road where it traverses Ingram Falls. Susan Lilly, Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, was part of the team that responded to the flooding. The damage was remarkable, she said.
“I don’t know if the pictures did it justice. It was quite a sight. Nature can be powerful,” Lilly said in an interview with the Daily Planet.
Deputies arrived Sunday evening to assess the initial road damage and to ensure that no one was stranded or in distress, and used binoculars to scope out the popular Via Ferrata for potential stragglers. One vehicle was caught between Bridal Veil Falls and the mine and had to be abandoned, according to Lilly. No hikers appeared to have gotten stuck and no injuries were reported.
The culvert blockage was caused by rocks and debris that were carried along with the high-flowing river, said Ryan Righetti, director of San Miguel County Road and Bridge.
Late Sunday evening, water levels began to recede. Hikers and bikers were told to “proceed at their own risk.” The road remained closed to vehicles through Monday afternoon.
Around 6 a.m. Monday morning, crews from County Road and Bridge began to repair the culvert and fix the road. For the initial assessment, District Supervisor Alan Hatfield used a drone to evaluate the damage caused by the flooding.
By Monday afternoon, the road was cleared enough to extract the trapped vehicle and reopen to the public. Righetti reported that although the road up to Bridal Veil Falls is now deemed “passable” there is still considerable damage.
“The road will be open (Monday) afternoon, but will still require a bit more work to restore it to its previous condition,” Righetti wrote in an email.
Lilly applauded the hard work of the road and bridge crew. “They were just making killer progress,” she said. “It was a mess. It was certainly something that if you saw in person you would not believe they could get done in one day.”
Road and bridge crews returned on Tuesday to ensure that the road is fully operational.
Although county road and bridge is in charge of the repairs, Righetti emphasized that the project is a collaborative effort.
“Coordination with the Town of Telluride and Idarado Mine to locate underground utilities was necessary before work could commence. Road and bridge is continuing to communicate with the sheriff’s office,” Righetti said.
For updates, people can refer to the road and bridge Facebook page and website.