UPDATE: All lanes of I-70 cleared, open through Glenwood Canyon after mudslide
Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon has reopened all lanes as of 6:15 p.m. Monday, according to a Colorado Department of Transportation update.
The eastbound lanes opened about 3 p.m. Monday, and then the westbound lanes were cleared and open three hours later.
CDOT crews worked through the night and all day Monday. The westbound lanes had a significant amount of debris, CDOT said earlier Monday.
One popular alternative route, Cottonwood Pass Road, was blocked completely, Eagle County officials said at 1:45 p.m. It reopened about an hour later. However, Independence Pass closed just before 3 p.m. Monday because of stuck vehicle and has reopened but there were long backups and delays.
I-70 was under a “hard closure,” meaning no traffic at all, between the Dotsero exit and Glenwood Springs exit overnight Sunday and most of the day Monday.
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It was the second time where I-70 experienced a major closure from debris slides along the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar this weekend. The day’s first closure alert due to a flood warning was issued at 4:43 p.m. Sunday for the main Glenwood Springs exit. Another closure due to a mudslide followed shortly, and then a smaller mudslide was reported at the location of Saturday’s mudslide incident.
Saturday’s closure of I-70 lasted several hours as crews worked to clear all four lanes from mud that spread 70 feet wide and was up to 5 feet deep in areas.
Sunday’s main mudslide, which flowed down the same drainage location as Saturday’s mudslide, reached 80 feet wide and 5 feet deep in areas.
Drone footage of the debris flow sites was used to assess the stability of the ground, and crews cleared debris and mud from roadways.
“Crews are continuing to assess the slide and current weather in order to determine what is required to safely clear the mudflow and reopen to eastbound and westbound traffic,” according to a summary of CDOT’s media briefing Sunday.
No injuries have been reported at this time, the summary states.
Bob Group, geohazards program manager for CDOT, said the mudslide incidents are very rain driven.
“The two drainages that flowed yesterday and today show how local the effects can be, depending on where we see the rain coming down,” Group said during Sunday’s briefing, noting the mudslides are prompted by rainfall. “Those are going to be tracking very closely to wherever those high-density rain cells are coming through.”
Kane Schneider, CDOT transportation maintenance employee, said to anticipate more mudslide events this week.
“This area is forecast to rain for the entire week, so we’re likely going to have some additional impacts going into the week based on this burn scar and the predicted forecast,” Schneider said.
Schneider said a long-term plan would depend on recommendations from their environmental team, to which Group added that the current behavior model for the burn scar area would be analyzed and more data would be gathered to determine if any long-term solutions are necessary.
Schneider said that the current closure plan will continue to be used throughout the summer, saying that travelers may have to expect on-and-off closures along I-70 if rainfall is expected.
“As you guys know, we can’t just close the canyon down for the rest of the summer,” he said. “So we’ve kind of got to juggle Mother Nature and a burn scar and traffic — and for us it’s just a lot of open and closing and open and closing.”
Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.