I-70 In Glenwood Canyon Reopens, Rock Slide Repairs Could Take Weeks

February 6, 2019
Photo: Glenwood Canyon 2019 Rock Slide | CDOT Surveys Slide - Courtesy
A higher up view of the rock slide that closed I-70 in Glenwood Canyon for a substantial part of Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.

Drivers can once again travel both directions of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon after a rock slide that closed the highway early Tuesday. It took crews about 20 hours to make the westbound lane safe for travel.

Some of the boulders were about “the size of a Suburban,” said Tracy Trulove of the Colorado Department of Transportation. The slide contained between 250 and 350 cubic yards of debris.

“We’re talking about 20 to 30 dump truck loads of rock,” she said, all of which will be kept in storage for use in future projects.

Clearing the road, patching a few impact craters and using airbags to blast residual rock off the canyon walls, turned out to be the quick jobs. Trulove said it will likely take weeks to repair 40 feet of the road’s retaining wall and 100 feet of railing. But as Glenwood Canyon rock slides go, this was nothing compared to three years ago.

“It was a much larger slide, with more damage to the roadway,” Trulove said, “so we had the highway closed for about a week before we could open it to any sort of traffic.”

Whenever the canyon is closed, drivers have to go all the way up to Steamboat Springs – a detour of about three hours. Trulove said that while this stretch of I-70 is prone to rock slides, it’s not an uncommon problem in the state — “Colorado has a lot of natural wonders, and unfortunately probably our biggest hazard is rock fall.”

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