News

I-70 Glenwood Canyon Helicopter Operations, Closure Resume Aug. 10-11

EAGLE and GARFIELD COUNTIES/GLENWOOD CANYON—The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announces rescheduled daytime, extended closures for Interstate 70 Glenwood Canyon from a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 10 and Thursday, Aug. 11, for both eastbound and westbound traffic.

The Glenwood Canyon closure is necessary for continued safety-critical rockfall work utilizing a helicopter at mile point 124.2, just west of Hanging Lake Tunnel.

TRAFFIC IMPACTS:

During these operations, the eastbound closure point is at Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs), and the westbound closure point is at Exit 133 (Dotsero). Colorado State Patrol will assist with traffic mitigation, and all vehicles must exit; queuing will not be allowed.

The Glenwood Canyon bike bath will remain open for recreational use. However, flaggers will be posted on the path closer to the rockfall site for traffic control during the helicopter picks.

July's helicopter operations were postponed due to downward wind drafts and challenges with rotor wash against the steep slope, which prevented any posts and fencing to be set.

"After careful consideration, we decided to use a larger helicopter with a longer line to better ensure a successful operation," said Mike Fowler, project engineer with local engineering firm SGM. "Part of the task includes the helicopter to pick, or lift, more than 1,000-pound posts to the rockfall site and insert them in designated slots to prepare for fencing. This is a time-sensitive, technical process that requires precision."

On Wednesday, Aug. 10, the contractor will set all 13 posts, and on Thursday, Aug. 11, helicopter operations will fly support materials to the site, said Jim Stepisnik, project manager. As soon as the posts are set, crews will secure the posts and get them ready to receive protective fencing.

"We understand the impact these closures pose to motorists, and we thank you for your patience and understanding as we work diligently to complete the work,” Tracy Trulove, CDOT Region 3 communications manager said. "However, we again urge travelers to plan ahead and schedule to drive through the Glenwood Canyon before 9 a.m., or wait until the canyon is reopened at 3:30 p.m., and anticipate heavy traffic at the beginning and end points an hour before and two hours after reopening due to vehicle congestion.

ALTERNATE ROUTES/TRAFFIC IMPACTS FOR PASSENGER VEHICLES:

Eastbound motorists/Grand Junction to Front Range
Exit 116 to CO 82 (Aspen/Independence Pass) to US 24 (Buena Vista) to CO 91 (Copper Mountain/Leadville) to Eastbound I-70. This route is only for vehicles under 35 feet in length. This route is very scenic and approximately 40 miles longer. Independence Pass has a vehicle length restriction in place of 35 feet.

Front Range motorists/Summit County/westbound motorists
CO 91(Copper/Leadville – I-70 Exit 195) to US 24 (Buena Vista) north on CO 82 (Independence Pass/Aspen) to Glenwood Springs. This route is recommended only for vehicles under 35 feet in length. This route is a very scenic and approximately 40 miles longer. Independence Pass has a vehicle length restriction in place of 35 feet.

Front Range/westbound motorists
US 40 from Exit 232 (Empire)

or

CO 9 (Silverthorne) to US 40 through Steamboat Springs, west on US 40 to Craig, then south on CO 13 to Rifle and back to I-70.

Eagle County
CO 131 (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.

South alternate route (west of Grand Junction or east of Vail)
Use 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.

COMMERCIAL VEHICLE ROUTES:

CMV parking will be available at Exit 133 (Dotsero).

The following width restrictions are in place on several of the alternate routes:

  • CO 131: 8-foot width restriction
  • CO 9 north of I-70: 12-foot width restriction
  • CO 13: 10-foot width restriction

CMV are restricted from using Independence Pass, which has a 35-foot length restriction in place. On the Exit 116 Glenwood Springs side of the closure, Colorado State Patrol will be working to stage CMV on I-70. Please pay close attention to all traffic control in place and follow flagger instructions.

Cottonwood Pass, Frying Pan Road and Hagerman Pass are NOT recommended alternate routes.

BUSTANG SERVICE

Bustang will be operating to and from Glenwood Springs. Please view the schedule.

TRAFFIC THROUGH THE CANYON

The average daily traffic for Glenwood Canyon is around 300 vehicles per hour. In the summer, that number can swell to around 500-600 vehicles per hour.


ABOUT

The Colorado Department of Transportation launched the permanent rockfall project on May 9 in response to the major February rock slide on I-70 in Glenwood Canyon. The anticipated completion date is Sept. 1, 2016. The project budget is estimated at around $2 million. This project is classified as an emergency project, and engineering was awarded to SGM and construction awarded to Yenter Companies.

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