Rockslide closes I-70 for 17 miles in Glenwood Canyon

Interstate's closure in creates possible detour via U.S. 40 through Steamboat


— A rockslide on Interstate 70 near Glenwood Springs overnight smashed through a bridge and dumped boulders the size of tractor trailers on the highway, closing a 17-mile stretch of the road.

The slide struck at about midnight just west of the Hanging Lake Tunnel in Glenwood Canyon.

It punched two gaping holes in the westbound bridge lanes and left large boulders strewn across the westbound and eastbound lanes.

No injuries or damage to vehicles were reported.

The collapse will cause major problems for truckers and other motorists, who must travel 200 miles to avoid the slide.

"You couldn't have picked a worse location, because there is no work-around. That is one of the real choke points in the system," said Greg Fulton, president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association. "It is not 5 or 10 miles. This is a fairly significant impact on our end."

The additional miles will increase the cost of deliveries, and delay shipments, he added.

The Colorado Department of Transportation hasn't determined when the highway will reopen. CDOT will blast and break up larger boulders today and continue to assess when a portion of the roadway may be opened.

CDOT will implement emergency contracting procedures and meet with contractors over the next couple of days as crews develop repair plans.

As many as 20 boulders, ranging from 3 feet to 10 feet in diameter, hit the interstate. CDOT estimates the largest rock weighs 66 tons and some are as big as semi trucks.

One hole in the bridge is estimated at about 10 by 20 feet, said CDOT spokeswoman Stacey Stegman. .

All lanes are closed from Glenwood Springs east to the town of Dotsero between mile markers 116 and 125. Up to 25,000 vehicles a day travel that section.

Alternate routes are in effect, with detours of 200 miles:

From westbound I-70 exit at US 40/Empire to State Highway 13 and back to I-70; exit in Silverthorne and take State Highway 9 to US 40 and State Highway 13; exit at Wolcott/State Highway 131 to US 40 and State Highway 13.

From eastbound I-70: exit at Rifle/State Highway 13 to US 40 and back to I-70.

A slide on Thanksgiving Day in 2004 closed the highway in the same area and required nearly $700,000 worth of repairs. Traffic was allowed on a few lanes the next day once the road was determined to be structurally sound.

"This is very similar in size, but we think it has caused even more damage than that one did," Stegman said.

Contact reporter Tom McGhee at (303)954-1671 or

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Find updates from the Colorado Department of Transportation here: or follow the agency on Twitter @ColoradoDOT.


George Danellis 7 years, 1 month ago

I guess we'll be seeing a few extra vehicles (and notably trucks) streaming through town!


George Danellis 7 years, 1 month ago

..and hopefully they'll stop and spend a few bucks.


mmjPatient22 7 years, 1 month ago

The traffic has already NOTICEABLY increased and who knows how long it will be that way. And you're right, hopefully they'll all find a few opportunities to drop some well-needed pre-mud-season $$$ on their way through.


sledneck 7 years, 1 month ago

I hope everyone sizes up the added traffic and ponders what the future holds for hwy. 40 & Lincoln Avenue if we don't expand its capacity soon.


ybul 7 years, 1 month ago

Maybe some of the traffic will go by 20 mile coal mine and bypass Steamboat Springs.


greenwash 7 years, 1 month ago

Its good to see some trucks coming through town.Its like the good ol days.

No traffic = No business.


kathy foos 7 years, 1 month ago

Extra safe driving to all,the more big trucks and twisting turns in canyons,drivers not used to them,the potential for accidents,especially during our spring snowstorms.Excess speed kills.It used to be that when the weather is bad,ten miles under the limit,to be safe.People get four wheel drives and think that it doesnt apply to them.four wheel drive doesnt help slow you down on corners or keep you on the road defieing gravity on a slick road.Defensive driving is a must up here,sorry for the driving lesson,Ive known of so many wrecks.........


Kevin Nerney 7 years, 1 month ago

Oh you people are are so naive! The added traffic has nothing to do with I 70 closure. Don't you see-- the economy is back!! The building boom has begun again. Barack the savior has arrived and stimulis money is flowing through the valley. Jump on the bandwagon and git while the gitting' is good. Ask Jimmy Westlake the stars have aligned and all is right with the world. And to boot tommorow will be a powder day and the lift tickets will be free.


TWill 7 years, 1 month ago

Amen Nerney! Our fearless leader has delivered on his promises...

Everyone get out there buy yourself lunch, new skis and a few cowboy hats- all on your way to close on your latest real estate transaction.

Nothing but blue skies ahead. Where are my shades?


Jeff_Kibler 7 years, 1 month ago

Just got back from Hilltop Sinclair. The place was packed with many out-of-state plates.


greenwash 7 years, 1 month ago

And, Kevin will be tending bar somewhere someplace.


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