Glenwood Canyon bike path repairs also needed, but I-70 higher in priority; likely to remain closed for season
Among the permanent repairs that will need to be done in Glenwood Canyon from the damage caused by recent mud and debris slides involves the popular recreation path connecting the four rest areas and Shoshone boat launch in the canyon.
The concrete path runs the full 12-mile length of the canyon alongside Interstate 70 and the Colorado River and is regularly used by cyclists, runners, hikers and other people looking to access the river.
It is currently closed to the east of the No Name Rest Area, and has been for much of the summer due to the threat of mudslides from the Grizzly Creek burn scar and safety concerns for trail users.
Parts of the path were severely damaged by the massive mud and debris slides in late July and early August, which closed I-70 for 15 days. The canyon was closed again Wednesday and into Thursday due to rains.
“Our first focus is the highway and to get it repaired and restored to two lanes of traffic (both directions) by Thanksgiving,” said Keith Stefanik, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s deputy incident commander for the Glenwood Canyon emergency response efforts.
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Stefanik joined a multiagency Wednesday video news conference, where the U.S. Forest Service announced that the Hanging Lake trail will remain closed to visitors indefinitely due to extensive trail damage caused by the slides.
Likewise, the recreation path will likely remain closed for some time until repairs can be made, Stefanik said.
“We understand the path is a necessity for the community, but we want to make sure we can open two lanes of traffic in each direction first,” he said.
“There are impacts to the trail all through the canyon,” Stefanik said, adding the path is “completely gone” at mile point 123.5, where I-70 was the most severely damaged.
Parts of the path are also underwater in places where the debris flows poured into the Colorado River, pushing the channel to the north over the path and up against the eastbound highway structure, he said.
“We do have to go in and assess the bike path,” but that’s not part of the initial emergency response, Stefanik said.
“Once we do the emergency repair work we can move on to permanent repairs,” he said. “The bike path will be one of those permanent repair projects.”
As with the interstate repair work, the bike path would be included for funding from the $116 million in federal assistance sought by Gov. Jared Polis.
In addition, the state and its congressional delegation are seeking emergency assistance for nonroadway impacts via the Stafford Act.
Nonroadway damage assessments are ongoing, but funding could be made available to repair damage to the Colorado River, for rockfall mitigation within the burn scar area on both sides of the river and rebuilding the Hanging Lake Trail.
Funds could also be used to support individuals and small businesses impacted by the slides and resulting canyon closures, CDOT indicated in a Wednesday news release.
John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.