Occasional traffic stops in Glenwood Canyon today
Motorists traveling through Glenwood Canyon on Interstate 70 today should expect intermittent, 20-minute traffic stops as rockfall mitigation work continues, Colorado Department of Transportation officials said.
Traffic stops will occur in the area between Grizzly Creek and the Hanging Lake Tunnels between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
The stops are needed to allow for helicopter operations as rockfall netting is being installed on the slope above the interstate where a major rockslide occurred Feb. 15.
A daylong full closure of the road is scheduled for next Tuesday.
The slide resulted in a nearly weeklong closure of I-70 through the canyon. Traffic continues to be limited to a two-way, head-to-head configuration using a pace car to control speeds, as mitigation and repair efforts progress.
“We are hopeful that by accelerating this work utilizing the helicopter operations that our GeoHazards team can complete the netting necessary to allow the road repairs to begin on the westbound deck,” said Damian Leyba, CDOT project engineer.
A helicopter will be lifting fencing materials into place on the 1,000-foot slope above the roadway, Leyba explained.
“Helicopter operations can be delicate in nature, so closing the road intermittently strikes the best balance between safety and keeping traffic moving,” he said.
The current head-to-head traffic configuration is expected to continue into next week, CDOT Region 3 spokeswoman Tracy Trulove said.
“Motorists are reminded to turn on headlights for safety and that there is a heavy Colorado State Patrol presence in the canyon,” she said.
The posted speed limit through the work zone is 35 mph, and no passing is allowed.
In addition to the ongoing rockfall mitigation work being done by CDOT’s geohazards team, GSI, the agency has contracted with American Civil Constructors West to make the necessary repairs to the highway itself.
The rockslide caused between $2 million and $5 million in damage, a figure Trulove said is still being fully assessed, mostly involving the westbound side of the interstate. The state has been awarded $1 million in federal emergency assistance to help pay for the repair work.
“Work is progressing,” Trulove said. “A lot of what now needs to happen is to get the emergency construction contractor and our geohazards team to mesh their schedules.”
The next big goal is to be able to open one lane on each of the east and westbound sides of the interstate, and move away from the current head-to-head configuration.
In order to get to that point, another full daytime closure of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon is being planned for the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. next Tuesday, March 8, weather dependent.
The full closure will be necessary for final installation of the rockfall netting, which will involve more extensive helicopter assistance, Trulove said.
“We anticipate this will take a full day, and we need that chunk of time to do the work,” she said.
The closure will mean that commuters, commercial truckers and other motorists will need to time their travels to get through the canyon before 9 a.m., or wait until after 4 p.m. Otherwise, daytime detours via U.S. 40 to the north or U.S. 50 to the south will once again be in effect.
Overall, Trulove said that CDOT is anticipating about eight weeks worth of work to do the necessary repairs and complete the safety improvements.
The current pace-car operation has been going smoothly, she said, with an average 25 to 40 minutes travel time through the 12-mile stretch of canyon.
Meanwhile, CDOT also plans a temporary nighttime closure of I-70 through Glenwood Springs next week associated with the Grand Avenue bridge project. Work is tentatively planned for March 9 to remove the existing pedestrian bridge as it passes over the interstate, which will require the highway to be closed for certain periods of time. That work will also be weather dependent.
Updated road conditions are available at http://www.cotrip.org or by calling 511 from anywhere in the state.
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