Avalanche mitigation spaceships will be used on Colorado mountain highways.

The egg-shaped devices lined in a row in the parking lot at the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnels loom like spaceships getting ready for liftoff.

“Looks a little like the CDOT space force this side of the road,” said winter operations manager Jamie Yont. “These are our Gazex exploders, we have them for avalanche control around the west side of the Eisenhower Tunnel.”

The avalanche mitigation spaceships actually have no propulsion, they are taken up to mountain ridge tops by helicopter. There they are connected to towers from which a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen fill a chamber. The mixture can be remotely sparked to cause an explosion that triggers avalanches to keep roads safe.

CDOT has 16 spaceships: 12 at the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnels, two on Berthoud Pass and two on Wolf Creek Pass.

They have been using the relatively new technology for a few years. They putting them in place in November and then bring them back down in May.

“It’s relatively new technology,” said Yont. “… we have had them for four or five winter seasons.”

November 8, 2022

Avalanche mitigation spaceships in Colorado
Avalanche mitigation spaceships in Colorado

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