No word on I-70 reopening
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – Workers hiked up the side of Glenwood Canyon Tuesday to examine another boulder threatening to fall on a major interstate, days after a rock slide punched gaping holes in an elevated section of the highway.
The rock under scrutiny is about 20 feet in diameter and sits about 900 feet above the roadway, the Colorado Department of Transportation said.
After ascending the canyon wall, the crew worked its way back down a steeper section with climbing ropes to reach the boulder.
It took all day just to get to the rock, and department officials were still waiting Tuesday night to hear what the crew will recommend, department spokeswoman Mindy Crane said.
About 20 boulders tumbled onto Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon at about midnight Sunday, leaving holes as large as 10 feet by 20 feet and forcing the indefinite closure of a 17-mile stretch of the highway, from Glenwood Springs to Dotsero. No injuries or damage to vehicles were reported.
I-70 is a vital east-west link in Colorado, with up to 25,000 vehicles a day traveling through the canyon. The shortest detour is more than 200 miles.
Crane said the department still has no estimate of when it will reopen.
Crews on Tuesday were breaking up the fallen boulders with explosives so they could be hauled away.
Gov. Bill Ritter declared a disaster emergency for the highway, allowing the state to seek funding from the Federal Highway Administration to help pay for repairs.
Engineers are still developing an estimate of the repair costs. A similar slide in the same area in 2004 cost $1.2 million to repair, including a $700,000 emergency contract with a contractor.
Arthur Daily, of Aspen, who was injured in a 1995 rock slide that killed his wife and two children near the same location, said he drove past the site about 90 minutes before the rocks fell again last weekend.
“I just thought, thank God that there was nobody in that part of the canyon when the rocks fell,” Daily told the Aspen Times. “That could have been a very tragic event.”