I-70 Glenwood Canyon resurfacing project resumes; expect traffic holds for helicopter operations
Construction work on the Interstate 70 Glenwood Canyon Surface Improvements Projects resumed Wednesday on the westbound traffic deck between the Hanging Lake and No Name Tunnels, the Colorado Department of Transportation said in a morning news release.
I-70 remains open with one-lane of traffic in each direction in the head-to-head detour pattern on the lower (eastbound) lanes, same as before and after the recent Grizzly Creek Fire closure.
However, there are to be intermittent traffic holds starting this morning so that Xcel Energy can perform helicopter operations to repair and replace damaged powerlines and other infrastructure that was damaged by the fire.
“During helicopter work, traffic will be stopped in both directions for approximately 15 minutes,” according to the CDOT release, which advises to anticipate traffic delays and lower speed limits.
Helicopter work is scheduled to take place Monday through Saturday from approximately 7 a.m.- 7 p.m. “The number of helicopter trips will vary based on the work crews are doing and weather impacts, but can include approximately one flight each hour,” CDOT said in the release.
CDOT also advises motorists to use both lanes to the merge point, eastbound at No Name and westbound at the Hanging Lake Tunnels, and to watch for fire and emergency vehicles that may be passing through and have the right of way.
In addition, travelers should be prepared for likely closures at times due to mudslides and other events in the aftermath of the fire. As of the latest update from the Grizzly Creek Fire incident command, the fire has burned 32,060 acres and is now 61% contained.
“Travelers are urged to pay close attention to weather forecasts,” CDOT advised in the release. “Although CDOT has carefully reviewed the hazards affecting I-70 in Glenwood Canyon, the roadway is a changing environment. Even minimal amounts of rain could trigger mudslides, debris flows or rock slides in the burn area.”
Travelers are not allowed to stop in Glenwood Canyon, and rest areas and exit ramps in the canyon remain closed. Stopping on the shoulder is also prohibited, and will be enforced, CDOT said.
Fire follow-up work ongoing
CDOT further advised in the release that recovery from the Grizzly Creek Fire will require additional traffic impacts in Glenwood Canyon to repair and replace damaged infrastructure.
In addition to the repairs to the Xcel transmission power lines, this will include work to repair rockfall netting, burn damage from fallen trees, concrete guardrail and other concrete damage.
“CDOT is working closely with the Grizzly Creek Incident Management Team and Xcel Energy to coordinate and minimize traffic impacts to I-70 in Glenwood Canyon.
“To address damage from the Grizzly Creek Fire, it is anticipated that the westbound deck will remain closed for the remainder of construction.”
After rest areas are safe to reopen, westbound traffic leaving Shoshone and Grizzly Creek must proceed east and use the Bair Ranch detour for access to westbound I-70.
“This means westbound traffic leaving Shoshone or Grizzly Creek will be routed to use the eastbound I-70 on-ramp at Grizzly Creek then will continue to Bair Ranch for access to westbound I-70,” CDOT explained in the release.
Current construction activities are still on track to be completed in October, CDOT also said.
In the meantime, the Glenwood Canyon Bike Path remains closed between Dotsero (Mile Point 133) and the No Name Tunnels (MP 117.6). All rest areas and river put-ins in Glenwood Canyon also remain closed due to rockfall and other hazards. There is no estimated time of reopening.
“All river recreation activities on the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon have been suspended to support ongoing firefighting activities,” CDOT advised in the release.
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Federal lands in and around the Roaring Fork Valley will be under a Stage 1 fire restrictions starting Friday, officials with the White River National Forest and Bureau of Land Management announced Wednesday morning.