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I-70 reopens through Glenwood Canyon

CDOT said Thursday it expected to reopen interstate by daybreak Friday
I-70 in Glenwood Canyon with sign
glenwood springs rain
Posted at 7:02 AM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 09:02:27-04

UPDATE | 5:14 a.m. — The Colorado Department of Transportation says Interstate 70 though Glenwood Canyon has reopened after crews cleared a few small slides at mile points 120.6, 120.7 westbound, and 130 eastbound between 2:45 and 4:45 a.m. Friday.


DENVER – Interstate 70 remains closed in both directions through Glenwood Canyon Thursday as rain continues to fall in the area, but the Colorado Department of Transportation said Thursday night it anticipates the interstate will reopen by daybreak Friday.

Rain has fallen steadily in the area through the day and a flash flood watch remains in effect for the area. CDOT said the Grizzly Creek burn scar has gotten “significant precipitation” since the canyon was shut down at 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, but no new slides or damage to the highway were reported as of 11:30 a.m.

By 10 p.m., CDOT reported crews were cleaning up three small material slides in several areas that have seen activity before.

CDOT says the canyon weathered over three inches of rain in a 24-hour period.

“This is the first significant rain event since the major slides occurred in late July, and CDOT is closely monitoring Glenwood Canyon to assess how the canyon responds to the rainfall and saturation,” Sellers said in a news release.

The repairs in Glenwood Canyon have held up through the weather event so far, according to CDOT.

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction says there could be a slight break in the rain out west before stronger storms move in Thursday afternoon in the area. CDOT plans to staff crews 24 hours a day into Friday morning in the event of mudslides.

The closures in Glenwood Canyon are becoming routine for residents in the area.

“Every time you turn around it’s either open or closed, open or closed.,” said Stan Racheski, who owns Mitchell Creek Bed and Breakfast.

When I-70 shuts down, he tells guests how to get to his place and tells them the scenic drive only adds to their vacation.

“You take [Highway] 24 to [Highway 82] over Independence Pass, which is what I call a two-sock ride, it’s so spectacular one pair of socks gets knocked off,” Racheski said.

But some people don’t want to make the trip.

“From the history this summer, like I said, some people cancel out – not very many – just a few. And others, they take it in stride.”

The closure is currently in place between exit 116 in Glenwood Springs and exit 133 at Dotsero.

CDOT is urging drivers to take the northern alternate route through Kremmling, Steamboat Springs, Craig and Meeker if they need to get around the closure. There is a traffic control point in place at West Rifle for eastbound traffic to get on the highway north to Meeker. Local traffic in the Roaring Fork Valley can use U.S. 6, CDOT said.

“CDOT crews will continue to assess the burn scar area and will determine if it is safe to reopen when the weather clears up,” Sellers said in a news release. “In the event that a new mudslide occurs or a significant amount of debris from the mudslide path blocks the interstate, the closure may become extended.”

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