A major rock slide along I-70 through the Glenwood Canyon area of Colorado has closed the highway indefinitely, forcing vehicles to detour as much as 200 mi. around the site. According to Colorado Dept. of Transportation (CDOT) spokesperson Mindy Crane, it is unclear when the highway will be open again to traffic.
“We had a similar rock slide in 2004, on Thanksgiving Day, and it took about 1 1/2 to 2 months to get the highway back to full operation,” Crane told Fleet Owner. “We’re hoping that within a couple of days to have some lanes open.”
The slide, which occurred in the early morning hours on Monday, dropped twenty large boulders on the highway, some “as large as semi trucks,” Crane said, adding that CDOT officials estimated the largest at 66 tons. There is a large 20 ft. by 10 ft. crater in one lane, Crane said, and a second 6 ft. by 6 ft. hole as well, in addition to guardrail and median damage.
“The damage is more extensive in the westbound lane,” Crane said. “We’re not 100% sure when we’re going to get I-70 open because we have repairs to make.” (See a live stream of this area of I-70)
The rock slide occurred at mile marker 125, just west of the Hanging Lake Tunnel. Eastbound and westbound traffic between Dotsero and Glenwood Springs is being detoured.
Geologists trekked up the mountain on Monday and are concerned about several rocks that appear to be unstable. Crews were assessing the situation this morning, but because the hike is approximately two hours up and two hours back, work could not be conducted last night. Mitigation of the rocks is likely today.
Crews spent Monday blasting away at the large rocks on the roadway, clearing many, but the cleanup is just beginning. Gov. Bill Ritter has declared the area a disaster area, allowing the state to access emergency funding to quickly make repairs.
Crane said the hope was to have at least one lane reopened within a few days.