Canyon rockfall project wraps up
The last rockfall protective fence above Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon was installed last Thursday, marking the completion of the four-month emergency rockfall mitigation project, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The project officially wrapped up Tuesday, and crews spent the day cleaning up the site along westbound I-70 just west of the Hanging Lake Tunnel where a massive rockslide closed the interstate for six days last February.
Final numbers are still being totaled, but project manager Jim Stepisnik of Yenter Cos. said in a news release that the project came in under the $2 million budget and two weeks before a Sept. 15 contract deadline.
Yenter Cos., which specializes in drilling, blasting and soil and rock stabilization, and SGM, a Glenwood Springs engineering and surveying firm, worked alongside CDOT engineers on the job.
The project involved the creation of barriers along the canyon wall two miles west of Hanging Lake Tunnel.
The barriers should drastically improve safety in this area, Stepisnik said. Three of the four fences are the largest in the U.S.
Crews often worked in extreme conditions on steep mountainous terrain against heavy traffic on the interstate, according to the CDOT news release.
I-70 through the canyon was also closed to traffic for two days in August for helicopter operations, which also proved challenging due to high winds on one of the scheduled days.
Crews were also required to hike up the canyon walls several times per day to prepare and install the fencing by hand, Stepisnik noted.
“The boulder field was unpredictable leaving crew members unsure of the stability of the slope,” he said. “Rock removal was done by hand to dig for the concrete foundation.”
Some boulders were so big they had to be drilled first then split with a hydraulic rock splitter so they could be removed, he said.
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Over 75,000 hikers visited Hanging Lake during this year’s peak season. Via signage, the city hopes to point more of those hikers also in the direction of downtown Glenwood Springs.