I-70 Glenwood Canyon Update: Wednesday, August 18

Travel Advisory

August 18, 2021 - Northwestern Colorado

Escavating mudslide

Second round of culvert cleaning at Ty Gulch

Note: photos for this update and all other summer photos are available in the media kit, which continues to be updated 

There was no National Weather Service Flash Flood Watch or Warning issued for Glenwood Canyon on Tuesday, August 17, and the weather held up for most of the day. Crews had another successful day and were able to get a total of 90 loads hauled out of the Canyon. 

Widespread thunderstorms return this afternoon (August 18) in western Colorado and will continue through Thursday evening, including in the overnight hours. The main threats include: heavy rainfall (rates up to one inch/hour), hail, and gusty winds. There is an increased flood potential in the Glenwood Canyon burn scar area. The National Weather Service is issuing a Flash Flood Watch at noon in the burn scar area today. Members of the public should anticipate the chance for a Flash Flood Watch to quickly turn into a Flash Flood Warning.  

Flash Flood Watch Protocol

Maintenance crews will be stationed at the two closure points along I-70 at mile point 133 (Dotsero) and MP 116 (Glenwood Springs). This allows for a quick closure of the interstate if the weather worsens. There will be a single lane closure on eastbound I-70 at MP 116 which, again, allows the opportunity to quickly close the interstate as soon as a Flash Flood Warning is issued.

Flash Flood Warning Protocol

In the event that a Flash Flood Warning is issued, maintenance crews at the two closure points will close the interstate. The Colorado State Patrol will sweep the area to ensure there are no motorists or members of the public in the area. Crews will continue to monitor the mudslide area. Motorists should be prepared for an extended closure should there be another mudslide or slide materials blocking the roadway that will need to be cleared before reopening. Safety is CDOT’s and CSP’s number one priority and the agencies will not reopen the interstate until it is safe to do so. 

In the Event of a Closure

Digital message boards will display the closure points and the recommended detour. The detour will be the same as when the canyon originally closed. CDOT will post messages on both Facebook and Twitter and will send information to stakeholders if we anticipate an extended closure. Motorists are encouraged to check COtrip.org and the weather forecast before driving through the canyon. 

Maintenance Update

Yesterday, August 18, CDOT maintenance crews continued to clean debris flows on the east end of the Canyon on westbound I-70 at Ty Gulch (MP 129). Crews hauled out 30 loads from the north side of the interstate with two excavators. One loading and one behind the wall gathering debris and mud in the drainage and feeding it to the other excavator. The crew also built in some stairsteps to slow the flow in the area. 

The west end finished cleaning between MP 119 and MP 121 on eastbound I-70 behind the wall and hauled out 60 loads. Crews moved to MP 126 and MP 127 and started cleaning the French Creek drainage.  

Crews assisted CDOT’s Staff Bridge on placing sensors at the MP 123.5 and MP 124.2 wall using Hanging Lake Tunnel’s bucket truck and traffic control in the area with flaggers and utilizing roadblocks from west to east with two attenuators. 

Today all crews will concentrate on getting equipment cleaned and staged for the upcoming forecasted events. CDOT will split crews into day and night shifts to have coverage at all closure points. 

Engineering Update

The Engineering team worked to install motion monitors at the westbound Blue Gulch wall. Coordinated project staffing for the repair project with the consultant. The team also initiated a task order process for additional public information support during the emergency repair project. CDOT continued to answer Contractor questions regarding the emergency repair project with the bid opening at 9 a.m. on Thursday, August 19. Most of the questions coming in indicate that Contractors are taking a good look at the project and planning on bidding. 

General Update

Plan - Prepare - Act for Heavy Rainfall and Flash Flooding (messaging from the National Weather Service)

  • Know before you go - check COtrip.org for any road closures and the weather forecast to see if there will be heavy rainfall in the Glenwood Canyon area
  • Do not drive in floodwaters
  • Have multiple ways to receive alerts
  • Take caution when driving next to steep terrain
  • Check the latest forecast for updates, watches and warnings
  • Be prepared for the sudden rise of water in streams, canyons and arroyos.

It’s important to note that while we as Coloradans are fortunate to live and play in the mountains, they can quickly become a threat while driving through them in adverse weather conditions. While Glenwood Canyon will be closed during a Flash Flood Warning, motorists must be prepared for impacts throughout the mountains and the potential for mudslides in other areas. Be prepared and know how to drive for the conditions.