I-70 through Glenwood Canyon reopens early Monday morning, CDOT announces

Staff reports
Interstate 70, seen here closed on Sunday, reopened early Monday morning.
Peter Baumann / Glenwood Springs Post Independent

After a two-week closure, Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon is open as of 6:30 a.m. Monday, officials announced.

Colorado Department of Transportation crews and inspectors have been assessing the road damage and rockfall concerns over the past week, and CDOT sent an update at 6:32 a.m. on

I-70 was closed briefly Monday night as firefighters responded to reports of smoke in the canyon and near Cottonwood Pass, but they did not find a fire. Closing I-70 allows for helicopters to pull water from the river and fight the flare-up along I-70.

In a news release sent at 7 a.m., CDOT announced “a limited reopening of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon this morning. CDOT asks that motorists prepare for reduced speeds, no stopping in the canyon and closures due to mudslides and other events. CDOT also urges travelers to stay focused on the road and avoid distracted driving.”

Rest areas in the canyon will be closed and motorists will not be able to use exit ramps, CDOT said.

The interstate is open to how it was before it closed on Aug. 10 when the now more than 30,000-acre wildfire started near the Grizzly Creek rest area.

The 24-mile stretch is open and a roughtly 7-mile section of it will continue to be head-to-head on the eastbound deck, as the construction project in the westbound lanes remains in place. Most of the rockfall cleanup work is also taking place in the westbound lanes, CDOT northwest regional director Mike Goolsby said Saturday during a community meeting.

CDOT officials remain concerned about future weather events and how they could affect closing the canyon in the near future. Even a quarter-inch of rain could cause issues after the road opens, officials have said.

“If there’s rain, we might have a safety closure,” CDOT Region 3 communications manager Elise Thatcher said Sunday in a phone interview. “So, keeping an eye on the forecast is the thing to do for travelers. … We’re very excited for a reopening, but also keep in mind that we’re going to have safety closures in the short-term future due to weather.”

The two-week I-70 shutdown is thought to be the longest in the canyon’s history.

Goolsby said Saturday that Xcel Energy continues to repair power lines in and above the canyon, and the upper tier of the interstate will be used to help move firefighters to either side of the fire.

“Not a lot of things are happening to the eastbound currently,” he said. “(The upper tier) also gives us to the opportunity to move fire crews quickly through the canyon not impacting traffic.”

This is a developing story that will be updated.