Glenwood Canyon closing Wednesday and Thursday | VailDaily.com

Glenwood Canyon closing Wednesday and Thursday

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GARFIELD COUNTY — The Colorado Department of Transportation will close Glenwood Canyon on Wednesday and Thursday for critical rockfall work and helicopter operations associated with an emergency rockfall mitigation project just west of the Hanging Lake Tunnel. The closures will last from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The eastbound closure point starts at Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs). The westbound closure point starts at Exit 133 (Doterso). All vehicles must exit, and queuing will not be allowed. The Colorado State Patrol will assist with traffic mitigation.

"Weather permitting, crews will utilize a military-style helicopter to deliver 13 steel posts erecting protective fencing," project engineer Mike Fowler said. "The full canyon closures are necessary because of the safety considerations when the military-style helicopter maneuvers and sets steel posts."

Plan Ahead

Motorists are urged to plan ahead. "We suggest that travelers 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.," Colorado Department of Transportation Region 3 Communications Manager Tracy Trulove said. "Motorists should anticipate heavy traffic before and after the closures from vehicle congestion at the beginning and end points of the closures."

Suggested alternate routes are:

Westbound motorists: Take State Highway 91( Interstate 70 Exit 195) to U.S. Highway 24 south of Leadville, then drive north on State Highway 82 over Independence Pass, then into Aspen and Glenwood Springs. This route is recommended only for vehicles under 35 feet in length. This route is very scenic and approximately 2 miles longer. Independence Pass has a vehicle length restriction in place of 35 feet.

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For those headed west from Eagle County, take State Highway 131 at Wolcott to Steamboat Springs, then west on U.S. Highway 40 to Craig, then south on State Highway 13 to Rifle and back to I-70. This is a 203-mile alternate route that will take about three hours and 50 minutes to travel. This detour adds 146 miles and about three hours to a regular trip from Wolcott to Rifle on I-70.

The south alternate route uses U.S. Highway 50. Access to this 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.

Commercial vehicles: Parking will be available at Dotsero. There is an 8-foot width restriction on State Highway 131 and a 12-foot width restriction on State Highway 9 north of I-70. Commercial vehicles are restricted from using Independence Pass at all times. On the Glenwood Springs side of the closure, the Colorado State Patrol will be working to stage commercial vehicles on I-70. 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.

• Bustang service will be operating to and from Glenwood Springs. To view that schedule, go to http://www.ridebustang.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.

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 Sept. 1. 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 info@gmail.com to be added to the email distribution list.