Boulder crashes into side of car in Glenwood Canyon
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A boulder smashed into a car on Interstate 70 Thursday afternoon in the Glenwood Canyon. The rock fell near the same location where a major rock fall closed I-70 for three days earlier in March.
The Colorado Highway Patrol reported that 53-year-old Kurt Kuxhausen, from Grand Junction, was driving through Glenwood Canyon when a two- to three-foot boulder struck the rear passenger side of his car. The impact caused severe damage to the vehicle, but Kuxhausen was still able to drive the vehicle home to Grand Junction.
State trooper Rich Armstong responded to the scene shortly after 3:30 p.m. and said that Colorado Department of Transportation crews had already assisted Kuxhausen with moving his vehicle from below the fall area, and into the Grizzly Creek rest area.
“This is one of those things that we are so blessed that he was not injured,” Armstong said. “This whole thing, he was just in the wrong spot at the wrong time.”
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According to Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Nancy Shanks, the rock that struck Kuxhausen’s car fell from below where the large rock slide had occurred.
Shanks said that geologists were at the site of the large rock fall again on Friday to assess the situation and determine if the potential for future rock slides exist.
“On first evaluation, the crew’s indication was that this rock fall is due to the wet weather we are experiencing,” Shanks said.
While instances of rocks falling due to a freeze and thaw cycle is typical for this time of year, especially in areas like Glenwood Canyon, Shanks said that CDOT geologists did not think that this was related to the previous slide.
“At this time, we don’t think that this rock slide has anything to do with that rock fall,” she said.
Most of the smaller-scale incidents, like Thursday’s, do not typically result in a geologist crew assessing the area. CDOT felt it was a good idea due to the close proximity to the larger fall.
“It’s not typical that they would visit a site on this type of incident,” Shanks said. “But, because the earlier slide was such a large incident, it makes sense to have them revisit the area.”
Road crews are currently working to repair the damage that was caused when about 20 boulders, some as large as a tractor-trailer and weighing an estimated 66 tons, punched holes into the road surface on March 8. I-70 remains restricted to one traffic lane in each direction through the work zone. Repairs are scheduled for completion by May 15.
Another rock fall on the south side of the Glenwood Canyon closed the Union Pacific railway for about an hour and a half, Friday afternoon.
According to Mark Davis, spokesman for Union Pacific Railroad, a boulder fell onto the tracks about 11:15 Friday morning, delaying two trains. One of the trains was delayed for a shot time, Davis said, while the other was delayed for a little under two hours.
A crane was used to remove the boulder, and traffic resumed shortly after.
Davis said that the rail company was able to clear the boulder pretty quickly because the boulder tripped a “slide sensor” that notifies officials of this type of incident.
In canyon areas across the railway system, slide fences are in place that notify train dispatchers and turn the track signals red, so that train engineers know not to proceed in instances such as this.
“One of the sensors was tripped and they were able to stop all traffic,” Davis said.
No trains were damaged and no injuries were reported, according to Davis.
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