Eastbound I-70 tunnel in Glenwood Canyon to close indefinitely
GARFIELD COUNTY – Due to safety concerns, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is closing the eastbound bore of the Hanging Lake Tunnels along I-70 in Glenwood Canyon.
Engineers have been monitoring a crack in the eastbound tunnel structure for the past year and today during an inspection noted that the crack has expanded to the point where CDOT is no longer comfortable allowing motorists to travel through the tunnel. The westbound tunnel has been inspected and is safe for travel.
“We are taking every precaution to ensure public safety,” said CDOT executive director Russ George. “We believe the tunnel is stable and don’t anticipate a structural failure, however, we’re going to err on the side of caution and make the necessary repairs to be certain there is no risk to motorists before we reopen the tunnel to traffic.”
The eastbound tunnel will close at approximately 8 p.m. tonight and will remain closed 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week, indefinitely. During this time, traffic will utilize the westbound bore with one lane of traffic open in each direction. Loads over 12-feet wide will be restricted from traveling through the westbound tunnel.
The Hanging Lake Tunnels run between two mountains with the tunnel control center located in the middle. Backfill was placed on top of the tunnel control center when the tunnel was built to blend with the natural surroundings. The 4,000-foot-long Hanging Lake Tunnels were completed in 1992. Over the years, rockfall and debris from the mountain have contributed to excessive weight on the backfill area. This weight has put pressure on the tunnel ceiling causing an estimated 70-foot-long crack in the structure.
At this time, CDOT does not have an estimate for how long the repairs will take or what they will cost.
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