I-70 To Remain Closed In Glenwood Canyon Until Saturday, Possibly Longer

Originally published on February 18, 2016 4:42 pm

Credit Colorado Department of Transportation
CDOT crews working on the interstate.

After a large rock slide, state officials expect the closure of I-70 to continue until at least Saturday. The rock slide occurred in Glenwood Canyon early Monday morning, and then again Monday evening. Since then, the highway’s been closed.  Inclement weather is delaying efforts to remove dangerous conditions.

When the interstate does open, though, it won’t be an end to the congestion. Amy Ford, CDOT’s director of transportation, says they’ll be using a pilot car program at first.

“We will be using a pilot car to bring westbound traffic in," she says, "we will then stop them, and bring eastbound traffic in.  There is not the room, given the repairs that we need to make nor the rock fall mitigation that will still be ongoing, to safely run head-to-head traffic.”

The pilot car will run for several days after the highway opens, causing delays of one to two hours as traffic is escorted through a six-mile long closure.  After that period, the highway will be partially closed, narrowing down to one lane in each direction.

“The damages the rocks caused were significant enough that we anticipate that we could have another month or so of construction following our pilot car situation," says Ford.

The current detour suggested by CDOT runs north, through Rifle, Craig, and Steamboat Springs.  It adds about three hours to the trip.  Because of the traffic that route now has, they’re suggesting another detour that will go south, along Highway 50 from Grand Junction to Delta, Montrose, Gunnison and Salida. 

CDOT officials say that many people may try to find alternate routes online, but most of those routes like Cottonwood Pass, Independence Pass and Frying Pan Road are closed or unmaintained during the winter.

Road conditions can be checked at cotrip.org.

Also, CDOT’s new bus service will be affected.  The Bustang Westline normally runs from Denver to Glenwood Springs, but for the near future will only run to Eagle.  The Amtrak California Zephyr route thst runs through Glenwood Springs is unaffected by the closure.  CDOT recommends that anyone relying on the Bustang to get to the Roaring Fork Valley take the train instead.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated from the previous version. 

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