Following Inclement Weather Last Night, CDOT Crews Make Progress on I-70 Glenwood Canyon Rockfall

February 19, 2016 - Northwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 3 - Interstate reopen estimate remains the same: earliest would be Saturday.

GARFIELD COUNTY – Rain, sleet and high winds last night created more rock movement on the mountainside above I-70 in Glenwood Canyon, contributing to the reasons why the interstate remains closed.

“The inclement weather resulted in about three additional hours of rock scaling work for our crews this morning,” CDOT Region 3 Transportation Director David Eller said. “Fortunately, the weather was clear today and crews benefited from the ability to fly tools and materials up to the work site with a helicopter.”

As reported yesterday, CDOT is still estimating that the earliest reopen time for the interstate would be Saturday midday. The reopen time is dependent upon a full report tonight of the day’s mitigation, as well as an assessment again tomorrow morning. A press release announcement, as well as postings on and the 511 phone line, will occur by noon tomorrow. The announcement will either announce the reopen time or provide an estimate if the interstate will not open on Saturday.

Crews are continuing work on 1) bringing rocks--both large and small--down from the mountainside with pry bars and airbags; 2) removing the damaged wall and guardrail in the westbound lanes; 3) installing some 160 linear feet of rockfall fencing on top of the hillside concrete barrier; and 4) making initial repairs to roadway, bridge and guardrail as necessary, while working towards designing a follow-up mitigation project and providing project cost estimates. (It is estimated that the damage caused by this rockslide event could range from $2 million to $5 million--updated information regarding this amount, scope of a repair project and funding sources will be provided in later releases when more is known.)

UPDATED FROM TODAY’S MEDIA CALL:  About 30 cubic yards of material came down during the initial natural slides on Monday, February 15, with an additional 160 cubic yards (about 16 loads of rock in a tandem dump truck) brought down by crews in the days since then. The largest rock that came down during the natural slides was the size of an SUV.

“The extreme freeze-thaw conditions we’re experiencing right now continue to move rocks, not only in this area, but in other areas along I-70 and in our mountain regions,” Eller said. “Our primary focus here is completing the mitigation in Glenwood Canyon and getting the interstate back open as quickly and safely as possible.”

When the current mitigation work is complete and the interstate is deemed safe for travel, a pilot car configuration will be set up to direct single-lane, alternating traffic along a six-mile section, with traffic being staged on the east side of Hanging Lake Tunnel and the crossover at the Grizzly Creek rest area further west. The Grizzly Creek, Hanging Lake and Shoshone rest areas will be closed during the duration of the pilot car operation. Bair Ranch (on the east side) and No Name (west side) rest areas will remain open. Motorists should expect at least an hour delay getting through the canyon during the pilot car operation. The Glenwood Canyon Bike Path remains closed as well. (Please note, local traffic coming from the west can travel as far as No Name; local traffic from the east can travel as far as Bair Ranch.)

Once necessary roadway and roadside repairs are completed to enable head-to-head, two-way travel through the canyon, CDOT will move to open one lane in each direction. After that occurs, it is likely to be several weeks more weeks before the damage to the roadway walls and roadway are repaired and the interstate can fully open to regular traffic operations.

TRAFFIC THROUGH THE CANYON - The average daily traffic for Glenwood Canyon is around 300 vehicles per hour. Around the evening of the incident the average traffic was about 150 per hour; the volume starts to drop off significantly after 11:00 p.m. to less than 100 vehicles per hour.

TRAVEL IMPACTS/ALTERNATE ROUTE:  There are two alternate routes, one north of I-70 and one south of I-70.  The north alternate route for for westbound motorists is north on CO 131 at Wolcott to Steamboat Springs, west on US 40 to Craig, then south on CO 13 to Rifle and back to I-70. This is a 203-mile alternate route that will take about three hours and 50 minutes to travel. This detour adds 146 miles and about three hours to a regular trip from Wolcott to Rifle on I-70, which is 67 miles or about 45 minutes. Please always check for roadway conditions before heading out. Cottonwood Pass and Independence Pass are both closed and not available as alternate routes. Frying Pan Road and Hagerman Pass are not recommended alternate routes.

The south alternate route uses US 50. Access to US 50 is available via Grand Junction for eastbound drivers and for westbound drivers by way of US 24/285 through the Salida area from the Front Range. (Please note, there is construction on US 24 over Trout Creek Pass east of Johnson Village in Chaffee County into early March; some blasting and up to 30-minute delays may be encountered.)

BUSTANG SERVICE:  In addition, the western terminus for Bustang, CDOT’s interregional express bus service to Glenwood Springs, is being temporarily moved to Eagle while I-70 is closed through Glenwood Canyon.  The current arrival and departure times will remain the same.  When I-70 reopens to traffic, Bustang will resume regular service to Glenwood Springs with possible adjustments to the arrival and departure times pending the pilot car impacts.  

SIGN UP FOR CDOT ALERTS:  If you are interested in receiving CDOT project and/or lane closure notifications to your email or mobile device, please sign up at and choose the envelope icon at the bottom of the page.