Pinto Valley Mine provided a crew and a mine-sized loader to assist ADOT in clearing Hwy 60. Courtesy Photo. Pinto Valley Mine (Capstone)
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Pinto Valley Mine crew saves the day with mine-size loader to clear Hwy 60

After a day of steady rain on January 21, the mountain pass between Globe and Superior let loose a large cascade of rocks and boulders that tumbled onto Highway 60. Rock slides are common in this pass after a soaking rain, but this one brought with it a boulder the size of a mid-size car. It occurred around 4 p m. as shift workers at the Pinto Valley Mine (Capstone)  began to head home. 

ADOT was on the scene with two loaders, but was faced with boulders which dwarfed their equipment. Courtesy Photo. PintoValleyMine (Capstone).

Traffic backed up for a mile or more on both sides of the rock slide.

ADOT was on the scene quickly with two loaders and a crew, but the size of the largest boulders meant they would have to break them apart with rock hammers before their loaders could handle them, according to Kurt Harris, District Assistant Engineer with ADOT. 

As fortune would have it, a Pinto Valley Mine supervisor, Mark Chism, was stuck in traffic near the front of the line and could see the challenge that ADOT faced. He asked if they could use some help and said he thought the mine might just have the equipment needed. He called up to the mine and reached Colleen Roche, Operations Support Manager for Pinto Valley Mine, who happened to be on the phone with their insurance representative in Vancouver. It was a fortunate coincidence.

“We wanted to help,” Roche says, adding that it was simply a matter of working out the liability issues. “All we wanted is for ADOT to confirm that if we caused damage unintentionally, we would not be held liable,” Roche said. ” They [ADOT] were super cooperative and  within an hour of getting that call, we had everything we needed to send our crew out to help.”

A 992 Loader was sent to assist ADOT in clearing highway 60 after a rock slide backed up traffic for miles in both directions. Courtesy Photo- PintoValleyMine (Capstone).

 

The response from those on the ground could be summed up by one crew member who, upon arrival of the 992, said, “Thank God you guys are here. We thought we’d be here all night.” 

To get a feel for the size difference between the mine’s loader and the ones ADOT was using, Harris explained that one of the ADOT loaders could fit into the bucket of the 992.

He added the smaller ADOT loaders might handle up to two tons, and estimated the 992 loader was capable of nearly 30 tons. 

 With that kind of muscle, the mine crew made quick work of clearing the largest boulder, picking it up and tossing it over the side, and then helping to clear the entire road. By 9 p.m. traffic was again flowing in both directions. 

 

“The mine has been tremendous to work with,” Harris said, adding ” it could have been a very long night if the mine had not stepped in to help. 

The rescue team included: L to R: Rodrigo Huerta (Mine Manager), Louis Rios (Pit Supervisor), David Grove (Pit Sr. Co ordinator), Mark Chism (Road crew supervisor), Manuel Barcenas (equipment operator) and our ADOT rep is on the right.. Kurt Harris. The operator in the 992 loader (not visible but in the driver’s seat) is Gary Storer. Courtesy Photo. PintoValleyMine(Capstone).

According to ADOT, blasting for the Highway 60 relocation is now complete.

There will continue to be flaggers and lane restrictions. Travelers are encouraged to get project updates and traffic alerts by email or follow ADOT on Twitter (@ArizonaDOT). They can also stay informed on road conditions through www.az511.gov

 

 

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