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Moving boulders to clear the way on I-70

Posted: 1:55 PM, Feb 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-05 21:53:55-05

GARFIELD COUNTY – Tons of fallen rock have been cleared off I-70 following a massive overnight rockslide near Glenwood Canyon.

According to a Tuesday morning CDOT press conference, the incident deposited 25-35 dump truck loads of rock onto the interstate. A few of the larger boulders are estimated to be the size of Chevrolet Suburbans.

“Our maintenance team has already been out there moving a lot of debris, and so it probably only leaves us 2-3 larger boulders that our specialty team will have to ‘boulder bust,'” stated Tracy Trulove, the CDOT communication manager on scene.

The ‘busting’ process involves drilling holes into the rocks in question then filling those with water before dropping in explosive charges that will “pop” the rock into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Fortunately, crews on the ground were able to move all the debris safely to the side of the interstate, which will allow CDOT to reduce those bigger rocks to rubble and transport them at another time.

Once the rocks are hauled away, it will be sent to CDOT storage space near the No Name Tunnels. According to Trulove, the organization frequently stores residual rockfall in that area and often repurposes it later.

In addition to the specialty ‘boulder blasting’ team, CDOT’s geohazards crew, a contracted rockfall mitigation team, and additional maintenance crews spent Tuesday afternoon on scene.

After hours spent utilizing a crane in rock scaling operations, CDOT has determined that the slope in question is stable enough to reopen the road.

Damage to I-70 near the rockslide was limited to:

  • 3-4 impact craters that have not damaged the road’s infrastructure
  • 30-40 feet of damaged parapet wall
  • About 100 feet of damaged guard railing

CDOT expects to have contractors on scene soon with repair projects following soon after. Preliminary estimations have repairs lasting 2-3 weeks during which CDOT representatives say drivers should expect intermittent lane closures.

As of 6:30 pm Tuesday evening, CDOT has reopened the eastbound lanes in the impacted area with plans to reopen the westbound lanes closer to 10:00 pm.