Mud makes mess of evening for motorists |

Mud makes mess of evening for motorists

Ryan Graff
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD CANYON- Mudslides caused by heavy rain and hail closed Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon Monday night until early Tuesday morning.

About a dozen slides throughout the canyon trapped motorists for as long as three hours, said Steve Quick, a highway maintenance supervisor for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The first mudslides happened about 8 p.m., said Quick. Mud covered the road from mile marker 123 just west of the Shoshone Power Plant east to mile marker 131 near Dotsero, said CDOT employee Charlie Lueders.

About 75 westbound motorists and as many as 300 eastbound travelers were stopped by the slides, said Quick.

The road was cleared enough to let stranded travelers pass by midnight, said Quick.

Westbound travelers stopped by the mudslide at the 123 mile marker east of the Shoshone Powerplant were let through to Glenwood Springs. Eastbound travelers were directed through the mudslide and turned around at the Hanging Lake Tunnel and directed back to Glenwood Springs for the night.

No injuries were reported.

CDOT, the Colorado State Patrol and the Glenwood Springs Police Department flagged cars and closed I-70 from Glenwood Springs to Dotsero.

Westbound lanes through the canyon were reopened at about 5:15 a.m. Tuesday and eastbound lanes at about 6:10 a.m., said Quick.

Though the bulk of the mudslides happened Monday evening and early Tuesday morning, several more let loose before noon on Tuesday.

One of Tuesday morning’s mudslides at milemarker 122 caused a minor accident in the westbound lane, said Quick.

By 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, most of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon was open, but one eastbound lane near the Bair Ranch rest area remained closed while CDOT crews patched a sinkhole.

“My problem was

a very large rock”

Though CDOT didn’t receive any reports of injuries, at least one trucker spent the night in the Bair Ranch rest area after hitting a mudslide.

“A mudslide came right in front of me and there was no avoiding it,” said truck driver Matt Calahan of Burlington.

“It just slid down right in front of me,” said Calahan. “I could have dealt with the mud. My problem was a very large rock.”

Calahan said he thought the rock weighed between 200 and 300 pounds, and held his arms out in front of him in a semi-circle to show the size.

Still stranded at 11 a.m. Tuesday after hitting the slide at around 8 p.m. Monday, Calahan had already missed his delivery time.

“It kind of put a damper on my getting to Idaho this morning,” he said.

He had barely started his run of drywall from Gypsum when he hit the mudslide.

“The mountain just broke loose,” he said. The two or three feet of mud pushed his whole rig toward the eastbound lane.

“It was an adventure,” he said.

On top of missing his delivery time and staying awake all night, Calahan had other worries.

“My truck’s only been on the road a month and a half. Everything in this truck is brand new,” he said from the open door of the Peterbilt.

The truck was built from the ground up by his boss at Dusty Rose Farms in Burlington. He said it took his boss 58 days to paint the truck’s frame alone.

Tuesday the white truck sat battered in a dirty parking lot with its hood up and mud-caked guts exposed. An empty jug was propped up beneath the engine to catch leaks.

“It’s got a busted oil pan, steering rod, radiator, air line, and I hurt my ego,” said Calahan.

“It’s depressing is what it is,” he said.

The bright side for Calahan: “It’s fixable and it’s insured.”

CDOT crews are the heroes

CDOT crews continued patching the sinkhole and running snowplows along the interstate on Tuesday.

The heavy plows drove in tandem up and down I-70 through the canyon, throwing mud and rocks over the rail and onto roadside signs, just as they do with snow in winter.

Some CDOT workers who were called in Monday night worked well into Tuesday.

Supervisor Quick worked most of the night after the slides. He said he made it home for three hours sleep before getting up early Tuesday to make morning meetings.

“There are guys working 13, 14 hours throughout the night,” said Lueders. “They’re the heroes of this thing.”

Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. 535

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.