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

I-70 in Glenwood Canyon closed due to large rockslide

Photo courtesy of CDOTBoulders block both eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 70 just west of the Hanging Lake Tunnel.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon remained closed to traffic in both directions Monday morning, after a large rock slide sent huge boulders tumbling onto the interstate at about midnight Sunday.

No vehicles were struck by the falling rock and no one was hurt, according the Colorado State Patrol.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is assessing the slide area, just west of the Hanging Lake Tunnel, for the potential for further slides. Crews are also determining the extent of the damage to the roadway. While CDOT has not yet indicated how long the interstate will be closed, the agency will meet with contractors over the next couple of days as crews develop repair plans.

Highway crews working with flashlights said the slide left two large holes in a westbound bridge, one of them about 10 feet by 20 feet. All lanes were blocked by about 20 boulders, some the size of a tractor-trailer rig. The largest boulder was estimated to weigh approximately 66 tons.

Some of the boulders are so big they will have to be blown apart with explosives before they can be hauled away, CDOT spokeswoman Stacy Stegman said.

CDOT reported more than half-a-dozen holes caused by the slide, covering an approximately 100 yard section of the interstate. The slide also damaged three sections, about 120 feet, of steel guard rail, and about 100 feet of the concrete median barrier.

A 1995 rock slide on I-70 in Glenwood Canyon killed three people.

The slide on Thanksgiving Day in 2004 in the same general area closed the highway and required nearly $700,000 worth of repairs. No one was hurt because the highway had previously been closed for an unrelated crash.

The interstate is closed between Glenwood Springs and Dotsero. Up to 25,000 vehicles a day travel that section, Stegman said.

Because of the rugged terrain, the shortest detour is more than 200 miles long, around the mountainous Flat Tops Wilderness Area. CDOT has recommended the following detour routes:

To bypass the closed stretch from the east: exit I-70 at U.S. 40/Empire to State Highway 13 and back to I-70; or exit in Silverthorne and take State Highway 9 to U.S. 40 and State Highway 13; or exit at Wolcott/State Highway 131 to U.S. 40 and State Highway 13.

To bypass the closed section from the west: exit at Rifle/State Highway 13 to U.S. 40 and back to I-70.

Check postindependent.com for further updates as they become available.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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