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CDOT contracts to bolt boulders

An area west of Glenwood Springs on Interstate 70 where a boulder killed a 7-year-old occupant of a vehicle Jan. 14 will get some attention from the Colorado Department of Transportation next week.

CDOT has contracted with Yenter Companies Inc. to remove loose rock and bolt down potentially hazardous boulders above the accident site, about five miles west of West Glenwood between the South Canyon and Canyon creek exits, said Philip Andrade, CDOT maintenance and operations supervisor.

The project is scheduled for Monday through Friday, March 4-8, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It could also be continued on Monday, March 11.



“The work will stop traffic for up to 15 minutes while they’re knocking the rocks down,” said CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson. Traffic will be stopped at each of the exits.

The work was scheduled to occur before and after the evening and morning rush hours to avoid congestion, Wilson said.



“Anytime we have rockfall potential, debris may come loose,” Andrade said. “But there is no immediate hazard. We’ll be checking for loose material and areas with larger rocks.”

The loose debris will be removed and larger rocks that are considered a potential hazard will be secured with rock bolts.

Andrade explained that in bolting, a 12-foot metal rod is drilled through the boulder and into the bedrock.

“We don’t know for sure if we’ll find any” boulders that can be bolted, he added.

Workers will scale the rock face and use hand tools to remove and bolt the rocks, Andrade said.

Once that is completed, CDOT will install a concrete barrier at the foot of the cliff to keep future rockfall from landing on the highway.

The Jan. 14 rockfall killed Michael Howdle while he was traveling in a westbound pickup truck. It caused accidents involving a total of seven vehicles. CDOT engineers estimated the rocks fell from about 200 feet up the cliff face.

Westbound lanes of I-70 were closed from about 6-10 p.m. that evening, stranding commuters and travelers in Glenwood Springs.

Although the area of the accident had not had hazardous rockfall in the past, CDOT geologists said the cooling and heating over the previous week pried the rocks loose from a natural outcropping above the interstate and sent them plummeting to the roadway below.


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