Interstate 70 partially reopens through Glenwood Canyon after rock slide

In a photo taken Sunday, CDOT crews work on the site of a rock fall in Glenwood Canyon. / Colorado Department of Transportation
In a photo taken Sunday, CDOT crews work on the site of a rock fall in Glenwood Canyon. / Colorado Department of Transportation

GLENWOOD CANYON, Colo. — Interstate 70 has partially reopened a week after a huge rock slide shut down a 23-mile stretch of the highway through Glenwood Canyon.

The Colorado Department of Transportation said one lane of the interstate is open from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. each night so that a pilot car can escort traffic through the canyon. Drivers should expect delays of more than an hour.

The interstate is closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily so that CDOT crews can continue rockfall mitigation work.

Pilot car configuration

Eastbound traffic is routed into one-lane starting at Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs) all the way to Grizzly Creek rest area where the pilot car picks up traffic. The coned off lane is for Colorado State Patrol, emergency services vehicles, law enforcement and CDOT/contractor vehicles as needed.

Westbound is placed into one-lane starting at Exit 129 (Bair Ranch) all the way to the east side of the Hanging Lake Tunnel bore where vehicles will be configured into the Pilot Car queue.

The Grizzly Creek, Hanging Lake and Shoshone rest areas will be closed for the duration of the pilot car operation. Bair Ranch (on the east side) and No Name (west side) rest areas will remain open. The Glenwood Canyon Bike Path remains closed as well. (Please note, local traffic coming from the west can travel as far as No Name; local traffic from the east can travel as far as Bair Ranch.)

Detours

Front Range motorists heading westbound: US 40 north (Steamboat Springs) west on US 40 (Craig) south to CO 13 (Rifle)

Summit County/westbound motorists: CO 9 (Silverthorne) to US 40 (Steamboat Springs) west on US 40 (Craig) south to CO 13 (Rifle)

Eagle County/westbound motorists: CO 131 at Wolcott to Steamboat Springs, west on US 40 to Craig, then south on CO 13 to Rifle and back to I-70. This is a 203-mile alternate route that will take about three hours and 50 minutes to travel. This detour adds 146 miles and about three hours to a regular trip from Wolcott to Rifle on I-70, which is 67 miles or about 45 minutes.

South alternate route: Uses US 50. Access to US 50 is available via Grand Junction for eastbound drivers and for westbound drivers by way of US 24/285 through the Salida area from the Front Range. (Please note, there is construction on US 24 over Trout Creek Pass east of Johnson Village in Chaffee County into early March; some blasting and up to 30-minute delays may be encountered.)

Cottonwood Pass in Eagle County and Independence Pass are both closed and not available as alternate routes. Frying Pan Road and Hagerman Pass are not recommended alternate routes.

The rock slide

CDOT said the first rockfall incident happened around 2:30 a.m. Monday. Traffic was able to get by Monday as crews worked to clear the boulders. The second slide happened around 9 p.m. Monday night.

CDOT crews fully closed Interstate 70 after the second slide.

Both slides happened at mile marker 124.2, which is just west of the Hanging Lake Tunnel and about eight miles east of Glenwood Springs.

CDOT said the biggest rock that came down during the slides was the size of an SUV.

The roadway, retaining wall, bridge, and guardrail were all damaged. CDOT said the rock fall caused $2 million to $5 million worth of damage.

 

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