Rockslide closes I-70 through Colorado’s Glenwood Canyon for 8 hours (video) |

Rockslide closes I-70 through Colorado’s Glenwood Canyon for 8 hours (video)

Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon was closed for eight hours Thursday because of a rockslide just west of the Hanging Lakes tunnels, an area prone to slides.

The Colorado Department of Transportation closed the interstate in both directions between Glenwood Springs and Dotsero after seven 1-ton boulders crashed onto the road at about 7:45 a.m. No vehicles were known to be damaged and no one was hurt.

The westbound lanes, where the rocks fell, were officially closed at 8:22 a.m., followed by a full closure of the interstate at around 10:30 a.m. The road reopened in both directions at about 4:20 p.m.

The north canyon wall continued to lose smaller rocks into the afternoon.


Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

“The slope is still really unstable,” CDOT regional spokeswoman Tracy Trulove said early in the afternoon. “Fortunately, this one didn’t do any major damage to the road deck. If we don’t see much more activity, it looks like it will only need minor repairs.”

The rockslide came after a soggy night and several weeks of wet weather that have increased slide activity around Colorado.

CDOT crews worked through the day to clear the road and to make sure it was safe through the area. While the rocks hit only the westbound lanes, CDOT closed the road in both directions.

“Especially in an area that sees this much rockfall, we err on the side of caution,” Trulove said, acknowledging the inconvenience for motorists.

Guy Patterson, De Beque’s town manager who commutes there twice a week from Avon, was stopped by the slide in the morning and emailed pictures to the Post Independent.

“I’m wondering if my commute back today will be over Independence or through Meeker,” he said in his email.

Several truckers parked along U.S. Highway 6 in West Glenwood to wait out the closure.

Dana Reynolds, a trucker from New York, was traveling east to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to deliver produce to a Wal-Mart. The main product he was carrying were peppers, including hot peppers.

“It’s only 250 miles, but it’s produce and it’s got to get there tomorrow,” Reynolds said.

He said at the Utah border there was an “alternate route,” which he said wouldn’t really help. ”It’s not worth to go all the way around.

“I’m just going to have to wait it out,” he said.

Jeff Szentmartony of Idaho Falls was at a West Glenwood convenience store at mid-morning after pulling off of I-70. He was headed home, pulling his camper, after camping at Rifle Falls State Park. He called 511 to see what was going on and heard that the road was closed indefinitely.

“When the rain’s this much, it has a tendency to slide,” Szentmartony said. “It is what it is, I’m not going to get upset about it.”

To get around the backup, he was going to take Independence Pass — an option not open to truckers, who are banned from the pass.

Colorado’s wet spring increased rockfall on the state’s roads, Bob Group, an engineering geologist with the Colorado Department of Transportation, told the PI at the end of May.

“We had a lot more than normal” statewide, with some slides covering lanes of travel or whole roads, he said. But, so far, no one has been injured.

This story includes reports from Post Independent staff writers Will Grandbois in Glenwood Canyon and Kelli Rollin and Brett Milam in Glenwood Springs.

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.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User