Glenwood Canyon closure: CDOT aims to reopen I-70 on Saturday
Crews in Glenwood Canyon are working to get Interstate 70 reopened to at least a lane of traffic in each direction as soon as Saturday afternoon — but that goal comes with crossed fingers.
Though officials hope the weather will be on their side, the forecast near the Grizzly Creek burn scar includes slight chances of rain and thunderstorms in the coming days, posing the risk of more mudslides.
Saturday’s partial reopening goal was part of a timeline announced Wednesday morning by Gov. Jared Polis during a canyon tour, a CDOT spokesman confirmed. If achieved, the reopening would come two weeks after a major nighttime rainfall on July 31 sent mud, rock and debris sliding onto the highway in several places, causing an indefinite closure. It was the worst in a string of mudslides since late June.
Plans call for single-lane configurations for about a mile or less in an area that took the brunt of the recent mudslides, with two lanes available in each direction through most of the canyon.
Engineers have been evaluating damage to the highway, particularly near the Hanging Lake Tunnel. Colorado Department of Transportation executive director Shoshana Lew said this week that repairs likely would take a few months, with a full reopening possible by Thanksgiving, CPR News reported.
Polis was in the canyon to view the damage to the highway and cleanup efforts. He was joined by Lew, incident commanders and engineering teams, according to the governor’s office.
Earlier this week, CDOT said the eastbound and westbound highway decks near the Hanging Lake Tunnel could safely accommodate a single lane during repair efforts with the installation of barriers and other safety devices. The eastbound side needs reconstruction of about 100 feet of roadway embankment along with temporary asphalt, CDOT said in a news release Tuesday.
Polis issued a disaster declaration last week. On Monday, the state requested $116 million in federal aid for repairs, cleanup, detours and other work on the major east-west link in the interstate system.
The Federal Highway Administration announced Tuesday that it would send $11.6 million quickly, fulfilling the state’s request that 10% of the aid be expedited.
During the canyon closure, I-70 traffic has been rerouted to detours that add significant travel time, including one that uses U.S. 40 to the north and another that uses U.S. 50 to the south. CDOT has urged motorists against using mountain passes and local roads that have use restrictions, require high clearance or aren’t built for heavy traffic.
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