Daytime closure of interstate through canyon re-scheduled
EAGLE COUNTY — The Colorado Department of Transportation has announced rescheduled daytime, closures for Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon. The new dates are Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The highway will be closed to all traffic.
The Glenwood Canyon closure is necessary for continued rockfall safety work using a helicopter at mile point 124.2, just west of the Hanging Lake Tunnel.
During these operations, the eastbound closure point is at Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs) and the westbound closure point is at Exit 133 (Dotsero). The Colorado State Patrol will assist with traffic mitigation and all vehicles must exit. Queuing will not be allowed.
The Glenwood Canyon bike bath will remain open for recreational use, however, flaggers will be posted on the path closer to the rockfall site for traffic control during the helicopter picks. July’s helicopter operations were postponed due to downward wind drafts and challenges with rotor wash against the steep slope, which prevented any posts and fencing to be set.
“After careful consideration, we decided to use a larger helicopter with a longer line to better ensure a successful operation,” said Mike Fowler, project engineer with SGM. Fowler added that part of the task includes using the helicopter to pick, or lift, posts weighing more than 1,000 pounds to the rockfall site then inserting them in designated slots to prepare for fencing.
“This is a time sensitive, technical process that requires precision,” Fowler added.
The contractor will set all 13 posts Wednesday. Helicopter operations Thursday include flying support materials to the site, project manager Jim Stepisnik said. As soon as the posts are set, crews will secure the posts and get them ready to hold protective fencing.
“We understand the impact these closures pose to motorists and we thank you for your patience and understanding as we work diligently to complete the work,” Colorado Department of Transportation Region 3 Communications Manager Tracy Trulove said. “However, we again urge travelers to plan ahead and schedule to drive through the Glenwood Canyon before 9 a.m. or wait until the canyon is reopened at 3:30 p.m. and anticipate heavy traffic at the beginning and end points an hour before and two hours after reopening due to vehicle congestion.”
• Eastbound motorists:
Exit 116 to State Highway 82 (Aspen/Independence Pass) to U.S. Highway 24 (Buena Vista) to State Highway 91 (Copper Mountain/Leadville) to Eastbound I-70. This route is only for vehicles under 35 feet in length. This route is very scenic and approximately 40 miles longer. Independence Pass has a vehicle length restriction in place of 35 feet.
• Westbound motorists
At Exit 195, take State Highway 91 to U.S. Highway 24 toward Buena Vista, then north on State Highway 82 (Independence Pass/Aspen) to Glenwood Springs. This route is recommended only for vehicles under 35 feet in length.
• From the Front Range, take U.S. Highway 40 from Exit 232 (Empire), or State Highway 9 (Silverthorne) to U.S. Highway 40 through Steamboat Springs, west to Craig, then south on State Highway 13 to Rifle and back to I-70.
• From Eagle County, take State Highway 131 (Wolcott) to Steamboat Springs, west on U.S. Highway 40 to Craig, then south on State Highway 13 to Rifle and back to I-70.
This detour adds 146 miles and about three hours to a regular trip from Wolcott to Rifle on I-70.
• South alternate route (west of Grand Junction or east of Vail)
Use U.S. Highway 50. Access to that highway is available via Grand Junction for eastbound drivers and for westbound drivers by way of U.S. Highway 24/285 through the Salida area from the Front Range.
• Truck parking is available at Exit 133 (Dotsero).
The following width restrictions are in place on several of the alternate routes:
State Highway 131 — eight-foot width restriction.
State Highway 9 north of I-70 — 12-foot width restriction.
State Highway 13 — 10-foot width restriction.
Commercial vehicles are restricted from using Independence Pass at all times. There is a 35-foot length restriction in place. On the Exit 116 Glenwood Springs side of the closure, the Colorado State Patrol will be working to stage commercial vehicles on I-70. Please pay close attention to all traffic control in place and follow flagger instructions.
• Cottonwood Pass, Frying Pan Road and Hagerman Pass are not recommended alternate routes.
The Bustang bus to and from Denver will be operating to and from Glenwood Springs. To view that schedule, go to http://www.ride bustang.com.
The average daily traffic for Glenwood Canyon is around 300 vehicles per hour. In the summer season, that number can swell to around 500 to 600 vehicles per hour.
ABOUT the project
The Colorado Department of Transportation launched the permanent rockfall project May 9 in response to a major February rock slide on I-70 in Glenwood Canyon. The anticipated completion date is September of this year. The project budget is estimated at around $2 million. This project is classified as an emergency project and engineering was awarded to SGM and construction awarded to Yenter Companies.
The public information hotline number is 970-618-1457 or email glenwoodcanyon email@example.com to be added to the email distribution list.
To receive Colorado Department of Transportation project and/or lane closure notifications on your email or mobile device, sign up at http://www.codot.gov and choose the envelope icon at the bottom of the page. Updates are also available via Twitter @coloradodot and the department’s Facebook page.
Paul Cuthbertson, a lifelong local of Eagle and Summit counties, died while skiing up to the Polar Star Inn to meet some friends for a celebration of his 21st birthday on Friday night.