I-70 in Glenwood Canyon could re-open soon
Post Independent staff
Vail, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD CANYON – Following a day of rock-climbing and high-altitude blasting in Glenwood Canyon by workmen of the Colorado Department of Transportation, the agency said it will try to open some part of Interstate 70 today.
State work crews, using a helicopter to ferry drilling equipment and a generator high up on the canyon wall, blasted free a huge boulder perched above the site of Monday’s rock fall. Pieces of the boulder rained down on the freeway shortly before 6 p.m., causing no further serious damage than the destruction done by the initial rockslide.
But CDOT officials decided not to try to reopen the highway, even on a limited basis of one lane in each direction, until crews have a chance to climb the canyon walls yet again today and check for further hazards.
“CDOT will make every effort to get some portion of the interstate open to traffic (today),” spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said in a release.
The impact of numerous large rocks and boulders, which fell from the northern canyon wall shortly after midnight on Monday, tore gaping holes in the road platform and closed the freeway in both directions.
The closure forced traffic to detour far to the north on US 40 before dropping back south to the interstate.
Shanks said a team of six workers hiked 900 feet up the canyon wall on Tuesday morning, and “conducted rock scaling operations (removing loose rock material with pry bars and other equipment) until approximately 5:30 p.m.” when they were forced by darkness to suspend work.
A CDOT helicopter had reached the site by 10:40 a.m. on Wednesday, to bring drilling and blasting equipment up to workmen who had once again clambered up the steep canyon walls.
Their goal was to blast into bits a large boulder, said by Shanks to be “approximately 20 feet in diameter,” that officials worried might come loose at any time and crash down onto the freeway.
Shanks said the assessment of the canyon walls, for boulders and other potentially hazardous debris, should take place on this morning.
If no further cause for alarm is found, she said, “I guess this means things look hopeful” for a quick reopening of at least one lane in each direction.
A woman commuting to work in northwest Colorado was killed Wednesday when a basketball-size boulder fell on a car on U.S. 40, about 60 miles north of the I-70 incident, the State Patrol said.
That part of U.S. 40 is one of the detours around the I-70 rock slide, but there was no indication the woman had gone that way because of the slide.
The coroner identified her as Karen Lynn Evanoff, 55, of Craig, a passenger in the car. The unidentified driver was unhurt.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.