PI Editorial: Kudos to CDOT for getting Glenwood Canyon reopened; now we seek long-term solutions

Post Independent Editorial Board

What a difference a week can make.

After providing numerous updates and information — something we noted as lacking in our editorial last week — on the progress being made throughout the week, Gov. Jared Polis announced the good news Saturday morning.

Colorado Department of Transportation workers had reopened Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon. The effort was no small feat, and it makes us optimistic about accomplishing the next challenge: How to keep the canyon route open as much as possible despite the new normal of debris slides following rain?

It’s important to keep in mind that, despite its challenges, Glenwood Canyon was identified as a major transportation route early on in Glenwood Springs’ history, which you can read more about at or on the front page of the Monday, Aug. 16, print edition.

From the railroad to a seasonal wagon road to state highway, then U.S. highway and finally interstate, Glenwood Canyon has been a crucial route for those crossing east-west through Colorado for more than 100 years now.

That history makes it very unlikely the canyon will be abandoned anytime soon as a major thoroughfare. That doesn’t mean we should disregard the importance of improving our contingency routes — more can definitely be done to improve Cottonwood Pass so it can better serve as an emergency alternative for passenger vehicles. But no matter the “what ifs” regarding whether I-70 should have been built through the canyon, it is almost certain to remain a major connector for the Western Slope and the region.

But solving the problem of keeping the canyon open even as more slides are sure to come more often is going to require everyone to think creatively. CDOT has done outstanding work in reopening the canyon, but a long-term solution shouldn’t be on its shoulders alone. Colorado has numerous outstanding engineering departments in its public university system. Let’s bring in that brain trust. There’s also the power of the private sector — how can we bring its resources and market-driven ingenuity to help solve the problem?

We don’t have the answer, but we know for certain: The more people we can get thinking about solutions, the more likely I-70 through Glenwood Canyon, an engineering marvel of the U.S. interstate highway system that serves thousands of people daily, will remain open.

The Post Independent editorial board members are Publisher Bryce Jacobson, Editor Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud, and community representatives Annie Bell, Amy Connerton and Karl Oelke.

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