Thursday, September 1, 2011

Another kind of “Rock Festival”

No….it’s not Woodstock 2011 and there’s not a big crowd, but it’s another way we make the highways a little safer.  It’s called “rock scaling.”

“Rock scaling” is a method of removing rocks on unstable slopes before they fall on their own and can cause damage to property and/or people.  We employ professional rock-climbers to rappel down a slope on safety ropes to remove loose rock by hand.  Tools they typically use include scaling bars, hydraulic wedges, air compressors and pillows, drills, and splitters.  

This method is very effective on slopes where trees have taken root in cracks, and while continuing to grow, the cracks worsen and eventually rocks become very unstable and hazardous to our roadways below.  Where the rock is removed by this method, it also results in a very natural appearance, as there are no visual signs of mechanical equipment or explosives being used to remove the rock.  At one location on this project at Sherman Pass on SR 20, there were 2,300 cubic yards of rock removed, leaving a very natural appearance of a much safer section of roadway.

“Rock Bolts” are long anchor bolts drilled into the rock to provide stability.  A Hollow Ram Jack is used to test the strength of the rock bolt system by pulling the bolt to a certain required strength.
“Boulder Busting” is a method of breaking large boulders up into smaller, more manageable rock to be hauled to another location.  The process includes pre-drilling the rock, using a light explosive material, and setting off a charge.


market news said...

I guess we are proven wrong, six years after telling a friend rock climbing was "just a hobby" not a career. I mean I saw eiger sanction but didn't think there was a market for pro rock climbers outside the gym.

The Geezer said...

Yeah, we can do lots of stuff, in the name of "safety". Pizz away a ton 'o cash, furshure, but is it the highest and best use for our precious highway dollars?

I have been lots of places with rock on the road. It comes down from time to time, so live with it. Ever hear of anyone getting their car damaged by it? I haven't.

How about spending the money on projects that will improve travel times/increase capacity, instead of this foolishness on a road few travel, and those that do are used to "watching for rolling rock".

The Geezer

Jeremy Bertrand said...

Geez, at least 6 people have been killed on I-90 due to rock falling. The most recent was on Sept. 1, 2005 when three women were killed coming home on a night like any other. There have been several other occurrences of death and injury across the state due to rockfall ( While a handful of deaths does not seem like a high number, it should be zero. That is why we do this work.

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