CDOT plans to open eastbound I-70 briefly after rockslide closure
UPDATE (11:30 a.m.): The eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon are expected to be opened briefly around midday Tuesday after Colorado Department of Transportation closed the road due to an early morning rockslide just west of Grizzly Creek.
CDOT and Colorado State Patrol hope to open both lanes headed east to allow traffic through, but the westbound lanes will remain closed.
CDOT spokeswoman Tracy Trulove said the maintenance crews and boulder blasting teams will be scaling the slope to reduce the loose rock on the hillside. During the scaling operations, CDOT will close both directions of I-70 for several hours.
“Unfortunately, for westbound travel that side of the highway is going to remain closed while the crane positioned and do more rock scaling,” Trulove said.
CDOT hopes to reopen eastbound lanes and one lane westbound by this evening, Trulove said.
CDOT first reported the rockslide on Twitter around 1 a.m.
The debris amounts to around 30 dump truck loads that will have to be removed, Trulove said.
Most traffic is being diverted to Highway 13 from Rifle, then through Steamboat Springs via U.S. 40.
Colorado State Patrol advises that Independence Pass on State Highway 82 and the back road headed over Cottonwood Pass are closed for the winter, and are not an option. There is a chain advisory on south Highway 133 over McClure pass.
Complicating the detour routes is a forecast of bad weather in the northwestern part of the state. CDOT is implementing surge resources to plow and keep the roads clear, but Trulove urged travelers to be patient.
“It’s going to be slow going. We know that’s not the best-case scenario when you’re trying to get somewhere, but we encourage people to be patient and take it slow,” Trulove said.
Rainfall and fluctuating temperatures increase the risk of rockslides, particularly in the canyon section west of the Hanging Lake Tunnel. A major rockslide on Feb. 15, 2016 shut down the interstate for about a week and caused lengthy detours north via U.S. 40 and south along U.S. 50.
The canyon was open to one lane only in both directions after six days, but using a pilot car to guide traffic in alternating fashion for several weeks. I-70 through the canyon was not fully reopened until the middle of April that year, after some $5 million in emergency repairs.
This update was provided by Thomas Phippen at the Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon is closed in both directions because of a rockslide overnight just west of Grizzly Creek, the Colorado Department of Transportation said in a news release Tuesday morning.
The slide occurred about 1 a.m. Tuesday and there is no timeframe on when the road will be opened. The Colorado State Patrol said expected the canyon to be closed “most of the day,” according to a tweet about 5 a.m. Alternative routes are advised.
CDOT officials said for safety reasons, crews “will wait until daybreak to further evaluate the size of the rockslide and any damage to the roadway. CDOT’s geohazards team has also mobilized to the scene.”
It does not appear that any vehicles were involved or any injuries occurred. The highway is closed at the main Glenwood Springs exit 116 on the canyon’s westside, and at Dotsero (mile marker 133) on the east side.
The Colorado State Patrol suggests an alternative route of Highway 131 (Wolcott) to Highway 40 (Steamboat Springs) to Highway 13 (Rifle).
“Do not use Cottonwood Pass,” the tweet says.
Glenwood Canyon is CLOSED in both directions due to large rockslide. Crews will be evaluating safety at daylight. Expect extended closure. Alt Route is HWY 131 (Wolcott) to HWY 40 (Steamboat) to HWY 13 (RIFLE). DO NOT USE Cottonwood Pass! pic.twitter.com/Pg7iG9Lb6i
— CSP Public Affairs (@CSP_News) February 5, 2019
Cottonwood Pass and numerous other high-mountain passes are closed in the winter, including Highway 82 over Independence Pass east of Aspen.
The Aspen Times newspaper editions are being sent through an alternative route and not expected to be delivered in Aspen until noon. To read the Aspen Times e-Edition, click here.
The Bustang bus route from Denver to Grand Junction will stop at Eagle, officials said Tuesday morning.
With snow in the Glenwood Springs-area forecast through Wednesday, travel advisories are out for other western Colorado highways, as well. The state’s passenger vehicle traction law and a requirement for commercial vehicles to use chains are in effect for Highway 133 over McClure Pass south of Carbondale.
The stretch of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon is prone to rock slides, in particular the section west of the Hanging Lake Tunnel.
A major rockslide on Feb. 15, 2016, resulted in a near week-long closure in both directions and lengthy detours north via U.S. 40 and south along U.S. 50. The canyon was open to one lane only in both directions after six days, but using a pilot car to guide traffic in alternating fashion for several weeks. I-70 through the canyon was not fully reopened until the middle of April that year, after $5 million in emergency repairs.
CDOT said the average daily traffic for Glenwood Canyon is around 300 vehicles per hour.
This story is developing and will be updated as information becomes available.
At least one boulder will need to be blasted as part of the cleanup effort.