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I-70 closed in both directions for flash flood warning in Glenwood Canyon

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Posted at 7:18 AM, Aug 19, 2021

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — Both directions of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon are closed Wednesday due to a flash flood warning. Colorado Department of Transportation officials determined the interstate would remain closed until Thursday morning.

The interstate was closed around 4:30 p.m. Closure points for westbound traffic will be Exit 133 (Dotsero) to Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs). Closure points for eastbound traffic will be from Exit 87 (West Rifle) to Exit 109 (Canyon Creek).

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar area until 7:15 p.m., which expired at that time. CDOT said the closure will remain in place through the duration of the advisory. Following a meeting with NOAA late Wednesday, CDOT officials decided to keep the interstate closed and reassess the weather forecast in the morning to determine if there's a possibility to open I-70 to traffic Thursday.

There have not been any mudslides Wednesday night.

A flash flood warning for the area will prompt CDOT to close I-70 through Glenwood Canyon to prevent drivers from getting caught in potential mudslides triggered by heavy rain over the burn scar. More than 100 people were trapped during the worst mudslides of the year so far on July 29.

That section of I-70 has been shut down several times over the last three months after mudslides washed up on the roadway. The worst of the closures lasted more than two weeks due to "extreme damage."

The interstate reopened on Saturday morning with one lane in each direction in the area with the heaviest damage. The work continues to fully repair the damaged interstate. USDOT approved quick disbursement of $11.6 million for repairs.

CDOT said there is no easy solution to the problem. The source of the mudslides is the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar. The human-caused fire started August 10, 2020 in Glenwood Canyon and burned more than 32,000 acres in the White River National Forest. CDOT said due to the size of the burn scar and terrain of the canyon, mitigation is nearly impossible.

These closures may last a few minutes or several hours, depending on the incident. If the closure lasts longer than an hour, traffic will be diverted to the northern alternate route.

The northern alternate route includes at least a two-hour-long detour. Westbound traffic can exit at Silverthorne and travel north on Colorado 9 to U.S. 40, then west to Craig. From Craig, take Colorado 13 south to Rifle and back on I-70. Eastbound traffic will need to exit at Rifle and take the same route in the other direction.

Drivers planning to use I-70 or other high-country roads should bring supplies with them in case they need to spend extended time in the car, CDOT said. At the minimum, this can include water, snacks, flashlight, and a blanket.

Check on road conditions on CDOT's website here and sign up for traffic alerts here.