NewsCovering Colorado


I-70 back open following avalanche on Vail Pass

Posted at 4:23 AM, Mar 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-08 07:14:40-05

UPDATE: CDOT reopened all lanes of I-70 between Copper Mountain and Vail, meaning all stretches of the interstate are open following an 18-hour closure of the interstate due to the avalanche.

As of Friday morning,  I-70 is open from Denver to the Utah border. Highway 91 is also back open between Copper Mountain and Leadville and Highway 24 is back open between Leadville and Minturn.

EAGLE COUNTY – I-70 is closed in both directions at Vail pass following a natural avalanche around 1 a.m. Thursday.

Colorado State Patrol said a tow truck was caught in the slide, but thankfully, no one was injured. Eastbound lanes were not covered from the avalanche but CDOT elected to shut down that side of the highway due to safety concerns.

The slide occurred at milemarker 186, which is about 9 miles west of Copper Mountain.  CDOT said on a conference call that it will take crews a total of six hours to clear snow from the interstate. Based on that estimate, I-70 should open sometime around 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

Drivers who tried to use Highway 91 and Highway 24 to bypass the closure ran into a fresh closure around 10 a.m. CDOT tweeted that Highway 24 is closed between Leadville and Minturn.

That closure was announced only minutes after Highway 91 was reopened from Copper Mountain to Leadville after an avalanche caused a gas leak near the junction of Highway 91 and I-70.

Leadville received about 19 inches of snow from the storm, and many roads in the area are closed there as well.

CDOT sent out a message Thursday to discourage travel on I-70 west of the tunnel due to avalanche conditions. The organization is also urging all commercial vehicle travel to stop because of dangerous conditions.