CDOT begins I-70 cleanup; no word on reopening lanes |

CDOT begins I-70 cleanup; no word on reopening lanes

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Courtesy CDOTRoughly 20 large boulders need to be cleared from Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon. There is no estimate yet on when some portion of the roadway will be reopened.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The largest of some 20 boulders that smashed down on Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon Sunday night weighs an estimated 66 tons. It will be blasted apart Monday, but the Colorado Department of Transportation does not yet know when it might be able to reopen some portion of the roadway to traffic.

The agency is implementing emergency contracting procedures and will meet with contractors over the next couple of days to develop a repair plan, according to CDOT spokesperson Nancy Shanks.

The interstate is closed between Dotsero and Glenwood Springs. Boulders litter all four lanes, in both directions of travel, just west of the Hanging Lake Tunnel. The boulders range in size from about 3 feet to 10 feet in diameter; the larger ones will be blasted into pieces Monday so the debris can be hauled out of the way, CDOT said.

The rocks punched holes in the elevated sections of the roadway; the largest, in the westbound lanes, measures 10 by 20 feet. Another hole in the lower, eastbound lanes, measures 6 by 6 feet, according to CDOT. There a half-dozen other holes and “dips” in the pavement, as well as areas where rocks are embedded in the road surface.

Rocks are scattered over about 100 feet of the roadway. Also damaged were three sections – about 120 linear feet – of steel guard rail, and 100 linear feet of the median barrier.

The slide occurred at about midnight Sunday. No vehicles were struck and no one was hurt, according to the Colorado State Patrol.

A 1995 rock slide on I-70 in Glenwood Canyon killed three Aspen residents.

A slide on Thanksgiving Day in 2004 closed the highway and required nearly $700,000 worth of repairs. No one was hurt because the highway had previously been closed for an unrelated crash. That slide came down onto the roadway in the same general area as Sunday’s slide, but started from a different location on the hillside, according to Shanks.

The closed section of the interstate typically sees 25,000 vehicles a day, according to CDOT. A multitude of travelers must now take a lengthy detour or wait out the closure.

Because of the rugged terrain, the shortest detour is more than 200 miles long, around the mountainous Flat Tops Wilderness Area. CDOT has recommended the following detour routes:

To bypass the closed stretch from the east: exit I-70 at U.S. 40/Empire to State Highway 13 and back to I-70; or exit in Silverthorne and take State Highway 9 to U.S. 40 and State Highway 13; or exit at Wolcott/State Highway 131 to U.S. 40 and State Highway 13.

To bypass the closed section from the west: exit at Rifle/State Highway 13 to U.S. 40 and back to I-70.

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