Aug 15, 2021 -- Posted by : goi70

“Clearing and ultimately re-opening the I-70 corridor through Glenwood Springs is our top transportation priority. This corridor plays a vital role in our state’s economy and for the many Coloradans that travel it to get to work, school, and homes along the western slope. CDOT and State Emergency Operations have made tremendous progress in cleaning up and removing tons of mud and debris that have completely blocked off access to this roadway,” said Governor Polis. “As the state recovers from this incident and reopens this corridor Saturday afternoon, we will continue to need strong federal partners in the Biden administration and our federal delegation.”

The I-70 Mountain Corridor through Glenwood Canyon closed in both directions on 7/29, after summer rains triggered a massive mudslide, trapping more than 100 travelers. The heaviest damage occurred at the Blue Gulch area, near milemarker 123.5, where debris from the canyon walls caused what Governor Polis called, “a pothole from hell.” I-70 through the canyon closed for two weeks, resulting in major economic and travel disruptions, however partial reopening began on 8/14.

Immediately following the incident, Colorado asked the federal government for $116 million to fund repairs through Glenwood Canyon and improve detours like the unpaved Cottonwood Pass between Gypsum and Glenwood Springs. Ten percent of that figure, $11.6 million has been funded immediately to address the most pressing needs. “Federal support, including the quick release of funds, will greatly assist Colorado’s efforts to restore functionality to the interstate and allow people to have the connectivity they rely on.”

CDOT has been working non-stop since the closure, having spent hundreds of thousands of combined man hours removing more than 1000 loads of debris and placing more than 156 super sacks (weighing 3,000 pounds each) to serve as temporary rockfall protection. “Our team has worked tirelessly to get Glenwood Canyon on I-70 opened as soon as possible, and we have made each minute count. I want to thank CDOT Executive Director Lew for her leadership on this effort, as CDOT has worked day and night to safely clear a path. It has been an all-hands-on-deck effort to get the canyon reopened from the mudslides which covered parts of the highway with 15 feet of rock and sludge.”

When open to travelers, CDOT will be working closely with the National Weather Service to keep a close eye on weather conditions over the canyon. When a ‘flash flood watch’ is issued, state transportation officials will go into standby mode – meaning that workers and equipment will be standing ready at the east and west sides of the canyon. If that ‘flash flood watch’ escalates to a ‘flash flood warning,’ the canyon will close between Dotsero and Glenwood Springs. The Colorado State Patrol will then start combing the highway through the canyon to ensure that all travelers make it out safely and timely.

Due to the erosion and loose canyon walls caused by the burn scar from last summer’s Grizzly Creek Fire, summer travel through the canyon will likely be unreliable for years to come, however this summer’s conditions are expected to be the worst. In addressing damage from the 7/29 mudslide, mitigation and construction will continue over the next 3 months with the goal of work being completed by Thanksgiving. In the meantime, CDOT will continue recommending that drivers take alternate routes. A full breakdown of project items and costs is as follows:

  • Debris removal costs (includes maintenance staff costs) = $4 million
  • Impacts to existing State Highway alternate routes (as a result of I-70 closure) costs = $10 million
  • Supplemental traffic control services (contractor) costs = $1 million
  • Visible damage estimates caused by event damage or debris removal hauling costs = $20 million
  • Assumed damage repair estimates (non-visible) costs = $20 million
  • Potential geohazard mitigation at several locations = $5 million
  • Construction Management and Construction Engineering costs = $5 million
  • Future Resiliency & Redundancy Study costs = $50 million
  • CDOT administration (non-maintenance staff) costs = $1 million



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