Glenwood Canyon opens to two-way traffic at 4 p.m. | VailDaily.com

Glenwood Canyon opens to two-way traffic at 4 p.m.

Daily staff report
Newsroom@vaildaily.com

GARFIELD COUNTY – Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon will open up to two-way travel at 4 p.m. today. A pace car in each direction will lead traffic to maintain a safe speed as motorists travel through the canyon on the eastbound lanes in a head-to-head configuration. Traffic volumes have been running high in the morning and evenings during the current single-lane pilot car configuration, but are expected to ease up as motorists will now be able to travel through the canyon throughout the day.

Travel impacts

Rockfall mitigation will continue during the day, with equipment being staged in westbound lanes and equipment being flown to the mountainside via helicopter. Motorists in both directions can expect periodic traffic holds as necessary, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week. From 4 p.m. to 9 a.m., the two-way pilot car operation will continue unimpeded. A 10-foot width restriction remains in place at all times. Motorists should continue to follow CDOT's traveler information site at http://www.cotrip.org for updates to this schedule and notifications.

"We're hopeful that by opening the highway to 24/7 two-way travel, we will see an easing in the congestion that has been present during the single-lane configuration," CDOT Region 3 Transportation Director David Eller said. "It's important travelers understand that — just like any other construction project with traffic control — there will still be delays, some possibly exceeding an hour during peak travel times. The reason we still need to control traffic with pilot cars is safety. We want to keep speeds low in this head-to-head configuration, and we need to be able to hold traffic when necessary to continue our work. When winter comes back to the canyon, we'll also need to run snow plows without the hindrance of cones or other delineation in the middle of the road."

Pace car operations

Eastbound traffic is slow rolled in the one-lane configuration starting at Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs) all the way to Grizzly Creek rest area where a flagger is present and a pace car picks up traffic. Westbound is slow rolled into one lane starting at Exit 129 (Bair Ranch) all the way to the east side of the Hanging Lake Tunnel bore (also manned by a flagger) where vehicles will be picked up by the pace car and escorted through. The pace car operation is manned by Colorado State Patrol and traffic control. At any time, four to six pace cars will be escorting cars through. The pace cars will be used to control the speed and flow of traffic through the restricted area, but in this configuration volumes should clear more efficiently. Delays of up to an hour or more should still be expected in this configuration. Updates will continue to be posted on CDOT's traveler information site at http://www.cotrip.org and recorded on the 511 phone line.

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The Grizzly Creek, Hanging Lake and Shoshone rest areas will be closed for the duration of this head-to-head pace car operation. Bair Ranch (on the east side) and No Name (west side) rest areas will remain open. The Glenwood Canyon Bike Path remains closed as well. (Please note, local traffic coming from the west can travel as far as No Name; local traffic from the east can travel as far as Bair Ranch.)

ALTERNATE ROUTES/TRAFFIC IMPACTS:

Eagle County/westbound motorists: Colorado Highway 131 at Wolcott to Steamboat Springs, west on U.S. Highway 40 to Craig, then south on Colorado 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, which is 67 miles or about 45 minutes.

Cottonwood Pass in Eagle County and Independence Pass are both closed and not available as alternate routes. Frying Pan Road and Hagerman Pass are not recommended alternate routes.

• Bustang service to and from Glenwood Springs has resumed. Adjustments to the arrival and departure times from Glenwood Springs will be required due to the pace car operation. The times will be posted soon at http://www.ridebustang.com.