Rockfall in Glenwood Canyon closes Interstate 70 overnight
February 15, 2016
GLENWOOD SPRING — Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon was closed shortly after 9:30 p.m. Monday by a second rockfall in less than 24 hours about 8 miles east of Glenwood Springs. The road will be closed in both directions this morning with no estimated time to reopen.
The rocks fell from very high in the canyon, and the Colorado Department of Transportation decided to close the road for the night rather than putting workers in harm's way trying to clear I-70 at night, said Tracy Trulove, CDOT spokeswoman.
The road was closed between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum. Trulove advised commuters to check cotrip.org, @ColoradoDOT on Twitter or Postindependent.com for updates.
The Colorado State Patrol was waiting for the road to be cleared enough to get a patrol car into the area, a spokesman said, but no vehicles were known to be trapped.
It was the second major rockfall of the day. Large rocks fell in the same place at about 2:40 a.m. Monday, forcing a full closure of the road until about 5 a.m. Then, as workers broke up those boulders, moved debris off the highway and used temporary patch material, traffic ran in both directions in the left lanes only.
That incident was cleared a bit after 7:30 p.m., when all four lanes of I-70 were reopened, only to be closed two hours later. No one was hurt in the first incident.
Recommended Stories For You
In the first incident, large boulders broke off of the north side of the canyon west of the Hanging Lake exit, where the westbound lanes are positioned above the eastbound lanes. Rocks tumbled across the westbound roadway and over the edge onto the eastbound lanes — and at least one boulder had enough velocity to land on the south bank of the Colorado River.
The Colorado Department of Transportation said crews will required intermittent stops on I-70 during clean-up of the first incident.
The rocks were large enough that CDOT used "Boulder Buster" equipment to break them down and remove them. Crews used jackhammers to drill into the large boulders and placed a type of ordinance similar to a shotgun shell to crack the rocks, Trulove said.
Road crews used a temporary cold patch mix where the boulders had taken chunks out of the asphalt. Trulove said CDOT will have to wait until the "hot batch asphalt" plants start operating in the spring.
Theis incidents caomes after a season ofn mitigation efforts by CDOT, but Trulove doubted that more fencing in that area would have stopped the boulders because they fell from so high.
Crews moving rocks and filling in damaged asphalt, where the chances of move boulders crashing down was still high, surmised that the rocks had broken off near the top of the canyon's northern rim.