I-70 closed through Glenwood Canyon due to rockslide | PostIndependent.com

I-70 closed through Glenwood Canyon due to rockslide

Temporary eastbound I-70 opening planned midday

Staff report

UPDATE, Tuesday 11 a.m.: The Colorado Department of Transportation expects to reopen eastbound Interstate 70 following a several-hours closure due to the early Tuesday morning rockslide in Glenwood Canyon. Westbound I-70 through the canyon is to remain closed until sometime later today, CDOT advised.

Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon was closed in both directions Tuesday morning due to a rockslide just west of Grizzly Creek. The Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol say to expect I-70 to be closed through the canyon for most of day, and possibly longer. Alternative routes are advised.

CDOT  reported the rockslide to Twitter around 1 a.m., and said in a 6 a.m. press release that there is no timeframe on when the road will be opened.

CDOT spokeswoman Tracy Trulove said that no vehicles were involved, and there were no injuries.

“There is a significant amount of debris on westbound deck, and some damage to retaining wall,” she said. “Our geohazards team is on the way to assess the damage.”

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I-70 is closed at the main Glenwood Springs exit 116 on the west, and at Dotsero (MM 133) on the east side of the canyon. Residents of No Name are being allowed in and out from the Glenwood side, if they can show proof of address.

In a Twitter post, the Colorado State Patrol said crews will be evaluating safety at daylight. It suggests an alternative route of Highway 131 (Wolcott) to U.S. 40 (Steamboat Springs) to Highway 13 (Rifle). “Do not use Cottonwood Pass,” the tweet says.

Cottonwood Pass and numerous other high mountain passes are closed in the winter, including State Highway 82 over Independence Pass east of Aspen.

Motorists are advised that the northern detour via U.S. 40 is a 203-mile alternate route that will take about three hours and 50 minutes to travel, according to CDOT. “This detour adds 146 miles and about three hours to a regular trip from Wolcott to Rifle on I-70,” according to a 6 a.m. CDOT news release.

An optional southern alternate route for those traveling between Grand Junction and the Front Range through the Salida area uses a combination of U.S. 50, U.S. 24 and U.S. 285.

“For safety, crews will wait until daybreak to further evaluate the size of the rockslide and any damage to the roadway,” CDOT said. “CDOT's geohazards team has also mobilized to the scene.”

With snow in the Glenwood Springs-area forecast through Wednesday, travel advisories are out for other western Colorado highways, as well. The state’s passenger vehicle traction law and a requirement for commercial vehicles to use chains are in effect for State Highway 133 over McClure Pass south of Carbondale.

The stretch of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon is prone to rockslides, in particular the section west of the Hanging Lake Tunnel. A major rockslide on Feb. 15, 2016 resulted in a near week-long closure in both directions and lengthy detours north via U.S. 40 and south along U.S. 50. The canyon was open to one lane only in both directions after six days, but using a pilot car to guide traffic in alternating fashion for several weeks. I-70 through the canyon was not fully reopened until the middle of April that year, after some $5 million in emergency repairs.

The Glenwood Springs Post Independent and Aspen Times newspapers are being sent through an alternative route and not expected to start delivery in Glenwood Springs until after 10 a.m. You can find the e-Edition of the Post Independent by clicking here. To read the Aspen Times e-Edition, click here. 

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.