Permanent, emergency repair work begins on I-70 in Glenwood Canyon

Contracted team has started assessing and repairing damaged areas

Vail Daily Staff Report
Infrastructure was heavily damaged during the slides that decimated Glenwood Canyon, as shown Wednesday, Aug. 11 between Dotsero and Glenwood Springs.
Chris Dillmann/

The Colorado Department of Transportation has awarded contractor partner, Colorado-based Lawrence Construction, the I-70 Glenwood Canyon Emergency Project.

Motorists traveling on Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon should anticipate delays, as well as intermittent daytime and nighttime closures, due to repair work. This current phase of the emergency project is estimated at $6.1 million.

The canyon was impacted by several major materials slides, including mudslides earlier this summer on July 29 and 31. The debris did considerable damage to the interstate at Mile Point 123.5, known as Blue Gulch.

“We are encouraged to get this project kicked off and have a contractor that mobilized so quickly and is using a plethora of local help,” CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said. “We understand how impactful the closures of the canyon are on the local economy. Governor (Jared) Polis has been clear that he wants everything completed before Thanksgiving, and we are optimistic we will have the interstate back open to four lanes at this location by the end of November.”

Crews have been actively setting up permanent traffic control barriers at the Blue Gulch location, where a majority of the repair work will start. The initial damage and clean up after the materials slides required an extended closure of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon to ensure the safety of the traveling public. The interstate is now open in the canyon, with the Blue Gulch section of roadway down to one lane each direction due to temporary and long term repairs.

At mile point 123.5, crews are excavating mudslide material surrounding the 7-foot by 7-foot concrete box culvert that runs beneath the interstate from Blue Gulch to the river. CDOT crews have uncovered the culvert inlet, which was severely damaged due to the mudslides. The contractor team now is working to determine how much debris is in the culvert and the extent of the damage and repairs that will need to be made.

Additionally, crews are excavating and hauling debris from the mile point 123.5 location to begin the first phase of roadway and retaining wall reconstruction. Portions of the eastbound roadway retaining wall adjacent to the recreation path were destroyed or severely damaged in the event. This wall infrastructure supports the eastbound lanes.

On the westbound deck, removal and rebuilding of the damaged parapet wall, and concrete deck will be in tandem with the work on the culvert.

Repairs to the recreation path will round out the project as well as continued debris removal, railing and barrier repair at several locations throughout the canyon that experienced material slides.

Lawrence Construction is using several local subcontractors that all have experience in Glenwood Canyon. The subs are from Gypsum, Silt, Carbondale and Grand Junction.

Travel Impacts

Infrastructure was heavily damaged during the slides that decimated Glenwood Canyon as shown Wednesday, Aug. 11 in between Dotsero and Glenwood Springs. Repairs are said to total around $15 million. This current phase totals $6.1 million. | Chris Dillmann

Work is scheduled Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There is currently a permanent one lane closure at mile point 123.5. westbound. The closure is half a mile long westbound and 1.5 miles long on the eastbound side of the highway.

Intermittent lane closures should be expected for utility work that will also be present in the canyon.

Several night closures are identified in the contract in order to perform safety critical work that would be difficult to perform under live traffic. Those closures will impact one direction of travel at a time and cannot be consecutive nights. A robust outreach plan is in place to alert locals and visitors of these closures at least 72 hours before they are initiated.

Motorists should anticipate delays depending on traffic volumes.

It is imperative for motorists to drive the posted speed limit through the work zone and leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.

Travelers are urged to slow down, obey the posted lowered speed limit and avoid all distractions.

Additional project information is available on the project information hotline: 970-319-1887 or via the project email: