"Sinkhole’ scenario now but a memory | VailDaily.com

"Sinkhole’ scenario now but a memory

Christine Ina Casillas

Interstate 70 in East Vail – site of the infamous “sinkhole” that closed the freeway for four days in June – has returned to normal, Ina Zisman, engineer for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said Wednesday.

Minor issues remains, such as drainage and cleaning up the shoulders, she said.

“The project went longer than we expected,” Zisman said. “We thought it would be done shortly after the Fourth of July, but we ran into some problems.”

When Bighorn Creek in East Vail overran its banks during a rainstorm in early June, it caused a part of the interstate to collapse and flood parts of East Vail. As a result of the damage, I-70 was closed from Copper Mountain to Vail for four days, forcing motorists to take a 54-mile detour to Leadville that involved twisty, two-lane mountain roads over two high passes at the Continental Divide.

Heavy spring snowmelt run-off, bolstered by several hours of rain, led to the creation of a 20-foot sinkhole in the median and the westbound lanes of the interstate, with Bighorn Creek roaring underneath.

The flood caused about $2 million in damage to public and private property, including 28 homes.

Four temporary lanes were opened in mid-June, but they were narrower than normal lanes, which required traffic to slow down considerably, transportation department officials said.

The speed limit through the construction zone dropped down to 35 mph, but that limit now has been raised back to 65 mph, she said.

“We feel good, and the project went very well,” she said. “We had a dedicated crew working 24 hours per day with 12- to 14-hour shifts. It took a lot of effort in a very short period of time.”

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at ccasillas@vaildaily.com.

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