Hwy. 133 and I-70 blocked
Torrential rainfall Wednesday afternoon triggered mudslides that blocked both Interstate 70 and Highway 133, backing up travelers going north, south, east and west.
Interstate 70 was covered in mud and rocks and closed in both directions between Gypsum and about two miles east of Dotsero, said Dan Hopkins, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The mud came down at about 3 p.m. and flowed over on to U.S. 6, which runs parallel to the interstate, forcing its closure as well.
Earlier, a mudslide blocked both lanes of Highway 133, about seven miles south of Carbondale near Avalanche Creek. The slide was triggered by a flash flood caused by heavy rain.
The highway was closed for about two hours; one lane reopened shortly after 4 p.m.
The slide was fueled by a blocked irrigation ditch close to the highway.
“The culvert backed up and blew out the headgate,” said Capt. Fred Bitterman of the Colorado State Patrol in Glenwood Springs.
The murky mess on I-70 came down in three slides between Gypsum and Dotsero.
At 3:30 p.m., the eastbound lanes were closed at Glenwood Springs and the westbound lanes were shut down at Gypsum, said Cathy DeJulio, highway maintenance supervisor at the Hanging Lake Tunnels.
Rafters on the Colorado River, expecting to pull out of the river and be picked up at No Name by a bus were stranded temporarily when eastbound traffic was stopped at the Glenwood Springs 116 exit on I-70.
The eastbound lanes of I-70 at Glenwood Springs reopened at 4:45 p.m., and Highway 6 was cleared by about the same time. Westbound traffic on the interstate was being diverted around the closure.
A mudslide also closed I-70 in both directions near Georgetown Lake at about 4 p.m. yesterday. Nearby, U.S. 6 over Loveland Pass was closed about an hour later by a mudslide, said CDOT’s Hopkins.
No injuries were reported from the slides, he said.
At Eisenhower Tunnel, about three inches of rain was reported in one hour, according to Hopkins.
Cleanup crews were using plows to try to clear the roads, but Hopkins said the task could take hours.
“As they move the mud off the roads, more mud is simply flowing back in,” he said.
Conditions in the Dotsero area made slopes ripe for slides, said Buddy Chadd of the Colorado State Patrol. There was not much vegetation on the north slope to hold mud and rocks in place, he said.
In Clear Creek Canyon, U.S. 6 between Golden and Highway 119 was closed of fear of additional mud- or rockslides, Hopkins said.
“Geologists determined that were still some unstable slopes,” Hopkins said.
The road there was expected to remain closed through Wednesday night.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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