Glenwood Canyon, I-70 in Colorado to reopen this weekend

August 12, 2021

Tyson Fisher

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After being shut down for three weeks, officials expect I-70 in Glenwood Canyon, Colo., to partially reopen on Saturday.

On Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis and Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Shoshana Lew announced that Glenwood Canyon will reopen Saturday afternoon, Aug. 14.

“Clearing and ultimately re-opening the I-70 corridor through Glenwood Springs is our top transportation priority,” Polis said in a statement. “This corridor plays a vital role in our state’s economy and for many Coloradans traveling 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.”

Polis/Lew surveying Glenwood Canyon damage
Gov. Jared Polis, CDOT Director Shoshana Lew and a U.S. Forest Service representative observe damage on I-70 in Glenwood Canyon. (Source: Colorado Department of Transportation)

According to a news release, a lot of work needs to be done in the days leading to Saturday. For example, crews must complete material removal at mile marker 123.5 westbound near Glenwood Canyon. In the meantime, truckers are to take Interstate 80 through Wyoming if driving across Colorado on Interstate 70.

I-70 in Glenwood Canyon was first shut down over the Fourth of July weekend after heavy rains caused destructive mudslides. After that, I-70 was reopened, only to be shut down again on July 21 after more mudslides caused significant damage.

On Aug. 2, Polis said he would issue a state disaster declaration for Glenwood Canyon. During a news conference, Polis said it could be “a few days to a few weeks” before I-70 reopens. Moreover, Polis’ executive order includes an exemption for hours-of-service regulations for certain truckers.

A few days after signing the executive order, Polis requested $116 million from the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief program. Initially, Polis asked for an expeditious release of 10% of the total amount, or $11.6 million. FHWA released the $11.6 million through its quick-release process.

“CDOT’s maintenance teams have made great progress in recovery operations, allowing our engineers to make similar strides in developing a plan to reopen I-70,” Lew said in a statement. “Thanks to the fast and strong support of our federal delegation as well as the backing of FHWA, CDOT can continue to work quickly with the assurance that resources will remain available.”

Less than a week after Polis announced the executive order, Colorado Motor Carriers Association President Greg Fulton published an op-ed urging officials to begin developing the nearby Cottonwood Pass as an alternative route that can also accommodate truck traffic. CDOT estimates the cost of those improvements at about $50 million. However, Fulton argues “that the overall costs to businesses and the travelers to date associated with this most recent closure may already exceed the total cost of improving Cottonwood Pass.”

Go to codot.gov/travel/glenwoodcanyon for the latest updates and information on alternative routes around Glenwood Canyon. LL

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Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.