Rockslide closes I-70 for 17 miles in Glenwood Canyon
Interstate's closure in creates possible detour via U.S. 40 through Steamboat
March 8, 2010
Glenwood Springs — 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Find updates from the Colorado Department of Transportation here: http://www.coloradodot.info/news/media-room.html or follow the agency on Twitter @ColoradoDOT.