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Glenwood’s Midland Bridge to be closed July 19-20 for re-decking

The Midland Bridge, located on Midland Avenue between Devereux Road and the Exit 114 (West Glenwood) roundabout, will be closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic on July 19 and 20 for asphalt work.

Re-decking of the bridge will be occurring during this closure, according to a city of Glenwood Springs press release.

Colorado River access and the Glenwood Whitewater Park will remain open and accessible via Devereux Road and from the south on Midland.

Detour Information

From the north (I-70 or Highway 6): Vehicles traveling on Interstate 70 should exit at the main Glenwood Springs exit (116), instead of 114, for downtown Glenwood Springs. To access Midland and the Glenwood Meadows area, travel south across the Grand Avenue Bridge/Colorado 82, then right on Eighth Street and right onto Midland Avenue.

From the south (Midland Avenue): Vehicles traveling on Midland Avenue should turn right on Eighth Street, then left at the Grand Avenue Bridge/Colorado 82, then take I-70 westbound to Exit 114 or Highway 6 to West Glenwood.

Bike/pedestrian access: Bicyclists and pedestrians should detour on Highway 6 from the north, then right on Devereux Road, and from the south using Devereux Road and Highway 6.

Extra note: Motorists are not recommended to detour to 27th Street as construction and possible periodic holds in that area will be occurring due to the 27th Street Bridge construction project, according to the release.

Multiple cars involved in crash Wednesday evening on EB 82

Five vehicles were involved in a crash at mile-marker 5 eastbound on Highway 82 Wednesday evening around 5:30 p.m.

The highway was never officially closed, according to Colorado State Patrol Trooper Josh Lewis, but the multi-car crash did cause some delays for motorists heading towards Carbondale.

The crash occurred within a current construction zone where traffic control and reduced speeds are in effect.

One passenger was transported to Valley View Hospital with mild-to-moderate injuries, Lewis said, but no injuries were considered serious.

The cause of the crash was still under investigation Wednesday night.


I-70 eastbound reopened after wreck east of Glenwood Canyon

Update 1:55 p.m.: All lanes are now open.

The Colorado State Patrol closed Interstate 70 eastbound for a brief time early Friday afternoon at mile marker 125 (Hanging Lake) Friday for an accident on the Eagle County side of Glenwood Canyon.

Westbound I-70 through Glenwood Canyon remained open.

Flood advisory issued for Redstone

The National Weather Service on Tuesday afternoon issued a flood advisory for the Crystal River near Redstone until further notice.

“Lowland flooding is expected along the Crystal River near Redstone,” the advisory said.

The bank of the Crystal River there is 4 feet, NWS said, and the river is expected to reach 4.8 feet by Wednesday morning.

“Use caution when walking near river banks, and avoid flooded areas if possible,” according to the advisory.

More flooding in Gypsum leads to evacuation at Riverview Mobile Home Park

GYPSUM — When raging water from the Eagle River swallowed five 30-foot trees from her yard Monday night, Gypsum resident Emily Elhert went into mama bear mode.

“It was definitely scary,” Ehlert said. “My main concern was getting my kids out of there.”

After she dropped off her sons at their dad’s house, she returned to her residence at the Riverview Mobile Home Park — but by around 10 p.m., officials told her it was best if she evacuated as well.

“It started as just a small crack in the road and then the trees and the fence went,” she said. “When I pulled up this morning, I wasn’t sure if my house would still be there in a few hours.”

Flood Advisory for Redstone

The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory for the Crystal River near Redstone Tuesday afternoon until further notice.

“Lowland flooding is expected along the Crystal River near Redstone,” the advisory said.

The bank of the Crystal River there is 4 feet, NWS said, and the river is expected to reach 4.8 feet by Wednesday morning.

Use caution when walking near river banks, and avoid flooded areas if possible.

Ehlert said by Tuesday morning, there was a big hole where her driveway used to be. Inside that big hole was a swirling cauldron of river water that continued to eat away at the riverbank.

“I thought I was going to lose everything when I went back home to pick up my animals,” Ehlert said. “I grabbed the animals and some important paperwork and that’s all. It’s hard when you think you are going to lose everything you own.”

Surging river

Emergency personnel and town crews have been working to stem flood waters in Gypsum for the past two days. On Monday, the river flooded the Parkview neighborhood.

Ehlert’s residence was the only evacuation from the Riverview Mobile Home Park Tuesday, but her neighbors anxiously watched the stabilization efforts throughout the day. The high water levels eroded more than 200 yards of dirt and the Eagle River is forecasted to fall and rise a couple more times, according to data from the National Weather Service.

“The water was within 12 feet of the rear of Emily’s trailer,” said Gypsum Public Works Director Jeff Shreeve.

Shreeve estimated the eroded area was 14 to 16 feet deep and the crews brought in 160 yards of boulders and 200 yards of clay fill to stabilize the area. With the fill placed, crews then set to work shoring up the banks with sandbags.

Ehlert said a friend paid for her and her boys to stay at a local hotel through Friday, the Eagle County Animal Shelter agreed to house her pets and many community members have reached out to help.

“I appreciate all the support I have gotten from my neighbors and the town,” she said. “Going through this has been really scary. It’s hard when you think you are going to lose everything you own.”

Ehlert has been awed by the massive effort underway to stabilize the river bank adjacent to her home.

“They must have made 50 dump truck drops,” she noted. “Now it’s going to be a waiting game to see what happens next. They don’t know what the river is going to do.”

Flooding in Red Cliff and Gypsum, warnings issued

This story will be updated.

RED CLIFF — A combination of evening rain and an early summer warm spell prompted Turkey Creek in Red Cliff to crest its banks Sunday evening into Monday morning.

The call went out Sunday night that Turkey Creek — which runs off Shrine Pass through town — was rising quickly. The rushing water damaged two homes.

The flooding also damaged the employees-only bridge to the town’s water treatment plant. Town administrator Barb Smith said the biggest concern at the moment is that the bridge might send potentially damaging debris downstream.

Tracy LeClair, the public information officer for the Eagle River Fire Protection District, said another one of the biggest concerns is a natural gas line that runs under a bridge. That worry brought a crew from Xcel Energy to town.

Two homes took on water during the flooding. Utilities were cut off to both homes, one of which was unoccupied. People in the other home were able to stay with relatives in town.

Floodwaters from Turkey Creek also prompted officials to close the Shrine Pass Road, which runs from the top of Vail Pass down into Red Cliff. That road was closed due to fears of possible damage to the road bed.

“It’s crazy to see how high (the creek) came up,” Green Bridge Inn assistant manager Kristina Finamore said. “People said they haven’t seen it that high in 60 years.”

The response Sunday night brought people from several local agencies. The Eagle County Road and Bridge Department brought a truckload of sand and bags. Minturn’s public works department contributed manpower and equipment.

Residents volunteered to help fill sandbags through the night and into Monday.

Also on Monday, 10 inmates from the Eagle County jail filled sandbags in Eagle. The bags were taken by truck to both Red Cliff and Gypsum.

While the water isn’t threatening utility lines, LeClair said debris carried in floodwaters can potentially do a lot of damage. Red Cliff’s public works crew is working to spot debris and pull it from the creek.

In Minturn, the fire district issued a warning to river users there Monday afternoon. A wastewater line is nearly underwater at the bridge at County Road 14 north of town — near the U.S. Forest Service office. Water is also running near the underside of other bridges in town, prompting officials to warn people not to recreate in the water until streamflows subside.

While there isn’t much precipitation in the forecast for the next couple of days, the National Weather Service has issued possible flood warnings for the next couple of days.

The problem is that overnight temperatures have been in the 40s at higher elevations. That means snowmelt continues through the overnight hours instead of easing.

“Last night was way worse than it is today,” Finamore said. “But it’s supposed to get worse tonight. We’re all just kind of waiting, seeing what happens and waiting with sandbags.”

If warm temperatures persist, high water could last for some time.

“There’s still quite a bit of snow up high,” LeClair said, adding that the constant melting will swell just about all local streams. Those conditions are expected to last until at least Wednesday of this week.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2930.

Glenwood Canyon utility work could affect traffic on both the highway and trails

Xcel Energy electric transmission line work in Glenwood Canyon continues and will include helicopter work beginning in the next couple weeks. Project work began in early June and will conclude in October.

Work is taking place between the Shoshone hydroelectric plant and Glenwood Springs. Interstate 70 impacts include temporary single-lane closures and rolling roadblocks between mile points 117 and 124. 

Road and trail impacts

Westbound motorists can anticipate single lane closures along I-70 for construction activities for the duration of the project. Road impacts also include westbound and eastbound intermittent traffic holds for all lanes of traffic during helicopter use, including sections of the Glenwood Canyon recreation trail. Rolling road closures will last for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. 

Helicopter operations are needed to remove old structures and install new structures. The helicopter will transport crews and equipment. 

Road impacts are subject to change due to weather conditions, material delivery and construction schedule. 

Recreation impacts

Recreational users, including hikers and rafters, may be subject to intermittent delays during construction. Flaggers will be posted on the Glenwood Canyon trail and the river’s boat put-ins to keep users informed of short delays. The delays should be limited to 10 to 15 minutes but may occur several times a day for safety as the helicopters pass overhead. 

Project information

Cyclists and pedestrians interested in using the path should frequently check the CDOT website for updates. Information can be found on the http://www.COTRIP.org page under the Travel Alerts Tab/Statewide Alerts. In order to maintain safety, CDOT reminds cyclists and pedestrians to obey all warning and closure signs.   

Glenwood Canyon bike path is open to the public, but those wishing to hike to Hanging Lake will need to make a reservation for a permit at http://www.visitglenwood.com/hanginglake.

Wet winter, spring may bode well for a mild summer wildfire season

With an above-average snowpack following a snowy winter, local firefighters and wildlife experts are expecting a mild fire season this year, especially at higher elevations.

The combination of a cool and wet spring, and average to wetter and cooler predictions through the summer, is tilting the odds toward average to below-average large fire risks across the Rocky Mountain region.

Tyko Isaacson, with the U.S. Forest Service’s Upper Colorado Fire and Aviation Management Unit, said the vegetation moisture content and other statistics indicate it is unlikely that the Western Slope will be facing an above-average fire season.

He added, however, that the lower elevations are more susceptible to the risk of a rapidly spreading wildfire, as the cheatgrass and fire fuels will begin curing at the lower levels, leaving extremely flammable vegetation.

David Boyd, spokesperson with BLM, explained that just because it’s shaping up to be a mild season doesn’t mean they won’t be putting out fires this summer.

“In an average year, we’re still fighting hundreds of fires,” Boyd said. “We will still have fires, and people still need to be very careful.

“Just look at the sides of the highway, [there’s] tons of grass ready to burn,” Boyd added.

Below-average large fire potential is forecasted for July through August across the Rocky Mountain region, according to the Upper Colorado seasonal outlooks.

The above-average snowpack also bodes well for a mild wildfire season, especially at the higher elevations where it takes longer for the snow to melt away.

Cool and wet spring temperatures kept the snowpack in the mountains well above average, with values ranging from 120 percent of median to in excess of 300 percent in some places.

And, historically in Colorado, for years that had above median snowpack on June 1, most had well below-average acres burned for June through August.

The Climate Prediction Center also shows a wetter than average June through September, according to consensus long-range weather forecasts.

However, the number of large fires has typically increased in June and July in Colorado.

In addition to the recent and forecasted wet/cool spring and summer, the heavy snowpack in the central and southern Colorado mountains has delayed the onset of core fire season, which typically sees an increase in fire activity by late May, according to the seasonal outlook.

Below-average large fire risk is predicted for the entire geographic area in June, with below-average risk becoming constrained to the mountains of Colorado during July and August.


Multi-car accident closes I-70 for lengthy stretch Friday afternoon

A multi-car accident Friday afternoon around 1 p.m. at exit 97 near the town of Silt caused major delays on Interstate 70, closing parts of the heavily-congested roadway for nearly four hours.

Commuters were redirected onto U.S. Highway 6 before the eastbound lanes were reopened around 2:30 p.m. Westbound lanes were fully opened at 4:30 p.m. after first responders were able to clean up the accident.

This is a developing story. The Post Independent will update the story as more information becomes available.

Barricades, warning signs put in place along Roaring Fork River in Glenwood Springs’ parks

Glenwood Springs’ officials continue to ask residents and visitors to use caution particularly around river access points within the city’s numerous parks.

Following Sunday’s press release, which warned the public “to be safe around high water” and to not utilize the Roaring Fork River for “casual swimming,” the city has placed barriers and warning signage in place where necessary.

“Yesterday we put out that public service announcement and just looked at water levels today, the average discharge over a 50 year period is about 4,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) and right now we are at about 7,000 CFS,” City Engineer Terri Partch said in an interview Monday of the Roaring Fork River, which continues to run at a rate between 3,000 and 4,000 CFS higher than normal. “Until that comes back down to being much closer to normal and the water velocity slows down we will keep all of those [warning] signs out there.”

One particular area of concern for city staff was that of Veltus Park.

Located at the corner of Midland Avenue and Eighth Street along the Roaring Fork River, city staff has put in place barricades and warning signage near the popular park’s river access points.

“We really want our residents and visitors to not go around barricades and to pay attention to signage for their safety,” added Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa.