I-70 Through Glenwood Canyon Will Reopen In ‘Days, Not Weeks’

August 10, 2021
CDOT crew works to clean up debris out of Glenwood Canyon.CDOT crew works to clean up debris out of Glenwood Canyon.Courtesy of CDOT
CDOT crew works to clean up debris out of Glenwood Canyon.

Update on Aug. 11 at 10:59 a.m.: While assessing the highway damage, Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday morning announced that I-70 through Glenwood Canyon will partially reopen Saturday afternoon. It will be two lanes in both directions, but at mile marker 123.5, which saw the worst damage, it’ll go down to one lane.

Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon will be partially open within “days, not weeks,” Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Shoshana Lew said Tuesday afternoon.

The state of Colorado also received word Tuesday that the federal government granted 10 percent of its recent request for $116 million in emergency funding

"It's really good news and means they are taking our request seriously," Lew told a joint meeting of the Garfield and Eagle county commissions. 

The highway has been closed due to mudslides for more than a week. Crews hauled nearly 200 loads of mud, rocks, trees and other debris out of Glenwood Canyon on Monday, according to an agency press release. 

CDOT hopes to have one lane open in each direction soon and the full highway open by Thanksgiving. 

The debris removal has allowed engineers to inspect the roadway. The road decks are in good enough condition that they will soon be able to carry traffic while repairs continue, agency officials said.

The eastbound deck, which is lower and closer to the Colorado River, is in worse shape than the westbound deck and will need emergency repairs to about 100 feet of roadway, CDOT’s press release said. 

The Eagle and Garfield commissioners also discussed potential upgrades to Cottonwood Pass, a dangerous but relatively direct gravel road around Glenwood Canyon. Eagle County staff identified $10.5 million in short-term upgrades including widening and straightening the road. But funding must first be identified and staff said work likely couldn’t begin on much of that until winter at the earliest. 

CDOT Chief Engineer Steve Harelson said the agency also hopes to work with Eagle and Garfield counties on bigger upgrades to Cottonwood Pass — possibly including paving and more widening. Those would likely require in-depth public outreach and environmental studies that could take years. 

“We would love to make some improvements,” he told the commissioners. “And we would love to work with you all to come up with a solution that works for everybody.”

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