UPDATE: I-70 now open in both directions following multiple debris slides Saturday
UPDATE, Sunday 4 p.m. — Eastbound and westbound Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon are now both open following a series of mud and debris slides on Saturday.
“Speed limits through the impacted areas are reduced to 40 mph in order to keep residual dust down,” the Colorado Department of Transportation said in a news release announcing the reopening of the eastbound lanes. Westbound lanes had already reopened Sunday morning.
“Please take it slow as dust will still be present following the clean up efforts at these locations,” CDOT advised.
Also, due to the potential for rain in the forecast Monday, the Grizzly Creek and Shoshone rest areas and the recreation path will remain closed for safety reasons.
UPDATE, Sunday 5 a.m. — Interstate 70 westbound lanes have reopened from Dotsero to Glenwood Springs (milemarkers 133 to 116) through Glenwood Canyon, according to a Garfield County alert issued at 4:57 a.m. The rest areas and bike path in the canyon remain closed for safety reasons.
According to a Colorado Department of Transportation release issued later in the morning, as of 10:30 a.m. both westbound lanes were open with a reduced speed limit in place.
“Crews continue to work on eastbound lanes which will remain closed for most of the day,” the release stated. “Trucks have been carrying hundreds of loads of debris away from the mudslide sites, but removal of the debris has been a challenge for crews because the material is wet, sloppy and difficult to contain.”
UPDATE, Saturday 6:06 p.m. – There is no estimated time for reopening Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon as crews will be working through the evening and into the night to clear multiple slides.
“Due to the confined space on the interstate roadway in the canyon, a limited amount of equipment can operate safely in the corridor,” an update from the Colorado Department of Transportation states. “Removal of the mud and debris will require extensive work throughout the evening and night.”
At least five slides were reported through the canyon, with mud “nine ft. deep and (covering) hundreds of feet of roadway” in some areas.
The Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar through Glenwood Canyon is at heightened risk of slides during heavy rainfall.
CDOT recommends motorists use the northern detour route through Steamboat Springs and Craig. Commercial vehicles a strictly prohibited on Cottonwood and Independence passes.
A flash flood warning was issued at 3:05 p.m. Saturday, July 2. While CDOT crews were clearing vehicles from the canyon, the initial slide was reported at 3:20 p.m. followed by four more, CDOT states.
This is the third day in a week I-70 has closed due to debris slides along the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar.
UPDATE, Saturday 3:20 p.m. — Interstate 70 is now closed in both directions to through traffic between milemarkers 87 (Rifle) and 133 (Dotsero) due to a flash flood warning in Glenwood Canyon.
“Only local traffic on I-70 will be allowed east of Exit 109 (Canyon Creek),” according to a Colorado Department of Transportation highway closure alert.
Earlier in the afternoon, the National Weather Service in Grand Junction issued a flash flood watch for Glenwood Canyon, according to a Garfield County Emergency Management notification.
Heavy rain was anticipated above the Grizzly Creek burn area shortly after a new alert was issued at 3:15 p.m.
I-70 is closed between mile-markers 116 to 133 both directions, Glenwood Springs to Dotsero, due to a flash flood warning.— Garfield 9-1-1 (@Garco911) July 3, 2021
The ongoing flood watch remains in effect until 6 p.m.
“Flash Flood Watch for the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn Area in portions of northwest Colorado and west central Colorado, including the following areas, in northwest Colorado, Flat Tops,” the notification states.
The flood watch also covers areas in west central Colorado, Central Colorado River Basin and Gore and Elk Mountains/Central Mountain Valleys.
This is the third flood watch issued by the National Weather Service for Glenwood Canyon in the past week.
National Weather Service Meteorologists are monitoring the potential for heavy rainfall over the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn Area, which may lead to flash flooding and debris flows, the notification states.
For updates and forecasts, check cotrip.org.
This is a developing story that will be updated.