I-70 motorists: Be prepared for possible canyon closures
Flash flood warnings in Grizzly Creek area will close the highway
Motorists should be prepared for potential closures of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon due to heavy rainfall that could trigger flash floods, mudslides, rockfall or other hazards.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has closed the Grizzly Creek and Shoshone power plant rest areas and the Glenwood Canyon recreation path due to a flash flood advisory for the Grizzly Creek burn scar. The transportation department will be on standby, with the same procedures as during a flash flood watch. If a flash flood warning is issued for the Grizzly Creek burn scar, officials will close I-70 in Glenwood Canyon and clear the canyon of traffic.
If there is an I-70 closure that is expected to last longer than an hour, transportation officials will ask that motorists use the recommended northern alternate route.
If you’re stuck…
If you are stuck in a closure waiting for a road to be cleared of mud or rocks, do not leave your car unless absolutely necessary. Never hang out in the grassy median located between lanes. If traffic is moving in the opposite direction, the median can be a hazardous area. Emergency response vehicles and heavy equipment may also need the median area to move about and access the emergency scene.
Lengthy closures on the interstate may also be the result of staged releases. As stopped traffic backs up, creating long lines, traffic will be let go in stages, allowing traffic queues ahead to clear, before releasing more traffic.
Highway closures can last for as little as a few minutes or for as long as several hours. When drivers set out on a trip, especially through High Country roads or the I-70 mountain corridor, it would be wise to have the car supplied with an emergency kit.
The kit should contain at the very minimum: water, snacks, flashlight, and a blanket. Remember to also carry water for your pets if you’re traveling with animals. You may even consider packing some items to keep you or children occupied while waiting in the car. Activity books, colored pencils or a deck of cards can help pass the time.
When motorists drive up onto a flooded area, there are several precautions to follow:
Never drive through any flooded area; you do not know how deep or how fast the water is running.
Even 8-10 inches of water can float an average-sized car, which can be easily swept off the road.
Driving too fast on wet roads or in flooded areas can cause a vehicle to hydroplane. Never use your cruise control during rainy conditions with standing water on the roadway.
Any amount of flooding or mud can obstruct the roadway and hinder drivers from knowing exactly where to drive. If you cannot see the roadway, be smart and wait for the water to subside.
Water and mud can contain unknown hazards hidden under the surface, including rocks or other debris such as plant material and tree branches.
Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” Gather information about weather forecasts and anticipated travel impacts and current road conditions prior to hitting the road.
Colorado Department of Transportation resources include:
The webpage: CODOT.gov.
Safe driving tips: CODOT.gov/travel/driving-safety.
The road conditions website: COtrip.org.
Project or travel alerts are available at: bit.ly/COalerts.
The Colorado Department of Transportation also has pages on Facebook and Twitter.