I-70 reopens in Glenwood Canyon | AspenTimes.com

I-70 reopens in Glenwood Canyon

Eben Harrell and Janet Urquhart
Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson

Interstate 70 reopened to travel in Glenwood Canyon on Friday afternoon, with one lane available in each direction.

Damage from a massive rockslide that closed down the interstate on Thanksgiving morning is estimated at $1 million, according to a Colorado Department of Transportation spokesperson.

CDOT had hoped to have the roadway back open Friday morning, but spent much of the day blasting apart boulders, scaling the canyon walls to knock down loose rocks and clearing debris.

By midafternoon Friday, workers had removed about 200 to 300 tons of boulders. The rocks were sitting on both east- and west-bound exits at Hanging Lake, and had completely filled up the Hanging Lake rest stop.

Traffic will likely be slowed through the slide zone for the coming weeks, as it will be funneled into a single lane in each direction, but the main thoroughfare through the Colorado mountains will remain a speedier route than holiday travelers were forced to use Thursday and Friday.

Motorists had little choice but to detour through Craig in northwestern Colorado. One truck driver who finally pulled his rig into Aspen Friday reported a 10-hour drive, given the detour and snowy roads. The detour should require about six hours from Denver to Aspen.

Despite the I-70 closure, it was business as usual around town yesterday, albeit with a few adjustments.

Local supermarkets, hotels, and businesses reported minimal impacts to their deliveries. Most trucks from Denver took the six-hour trip to bypass the rubble. By 2 p.m. Friday, the first trucks were beginning to trickle into town.

The Aspen Times, which is printed in Gypsum, didn’t hit newsstands until midday.

“It took me 10 hours. It usually takes four,” said delivery driver Chris Amos of Denver-based Beverage Distributors, parked outside of Carl’s Pharmacy. “The conditions of the roads on the detour were terrible ” pretty much a sheet of ice.”

City Market and Clark’s Market, Aspen’s two grocery stores, both reported fully stocked shelves and were expecting deliveries late yesterday.

A spokeswoman from Aspen Valley Hospital said arrangements had been made to transport critically ill or injured patients to Grand Junction, should the need arise.

“We do often send patients to University Hospital in Denver, but if we need to, we’ll send patients in an ambulance to St. Mary’s in Grand Junction until I-70 is reopened,” AVH House Supervisor Elaine Crowley said.

Snow Friday morning in Aspen compounded travel headaches; United Express cancelled two outgoing flights. The one flight that did take off ” the 8:25 a.m. to Denver ” did not depart until noon.

“It always sucks getting out of Aspen,” United passenger John Whipple said. “But now there aren’t any other options. I’m not driving on a six-hour detour.”

Colorado Mountain Express, which runs a van service between Aspen and Denver International Airport, reported no cancellations yesterday, though it, too, was taking the detour around the canyon.

Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com

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