CDOT representatives and agency partners deliver Glenwood Canyon update

News Release

April 27, 2022 - Statewide News

Statewide— The Colorado Department of Transportation and agency partners met Tuesday to update media outlets on the progress of the Glenwood Canyon recovery efforts that are close to wrapping up this week. Photos of the event can be found here.

“The recent Duck Pond fire just a few miles away in Eagle County brought yet another reminder that we live in a fragile ecosystem, and the transportation network can be just as fragile when disaster strikes,” said Shoshana Lew, CDOT Executive Director. “CDOT has made tremendous progress in the recovery efforts from the 2021 mudflows. This includes fixing Interstate 70 in record time, removing material from the Colorado River, rockfall mitigation and numerous other tasks to get I-70 operating safely for the traveling public. A total of 206,355 tons of material have been removed since a major material flow last July 29,” she said.

Crews have completed debris removal on four debris piles along I-70 above the Shoshone Power Plant. As river work wraps up this month, motorists may notice two remaining locations at Deadman Gulch (Mile Point 112.8) and Maneater (MP 121.8) where crews will be moving material to allow for greater river flow. The reshaping of the Deadman and Maneater piles is estimated to take four weeks, and is weather dependent. CDOT contractor partners are also working to rebuild damaged sections of the Glenwood Canyon Recreation Path.

“This section of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon is of national importance. This is a critical link for the nationwide transportation system,” said John Cater, FHWA Colorado Division Administrator. “Being ready for spring runoff is an important part of protecting this critical link that keeps goods and services moving through Colorado.”

The CDOT engineering team has been working with internal experts and partner agencies on the next round of mitigation work. That work includes something new for the canyon: working with mother nature to capture runoff in excavated basins adjacent to I-70, and slowing the water as it moves down the watersheds in the upper reaches of the canyon.

“We know there’s also a great deal of interest in the future of Cottonwood Pass,” said Steve Harelson, CDOT Chief Engineer. “Our team is working with Eagle and Garfield counties to explore limited improvements within the budget. The goal is to provide a better local alternate route during closures. The road will likely continue to be a county road and will not be able to support heavy commercial traffic.”

Speakers in attendance included:

  • CDOT Director, Shoshana Lew
  • John Cater, FHWA Colorado Division Administrator
  • Steve Harelson, CDOT Chief Engineer
  • Andrew Knapp, CDOT Program Central Resident Engineer
  • Mike Willis, Colorado Office of Emergency Management Director
  • Captain Jared Rapp, Colorado State Patrol
  • David Boyd, Public Affairs Officer, White River National Forest
  • Tom Jankovsky, Garfield County Commissioner
  • Jonathan Godes, Mayor, City of Glenwood Springs
  • Todd Blake, CDOT Deputy Maintenance Superintendent, Section 2

Be Prepared

For spring, summer and fall 2022, CDOT continues to have an I-70 Glenwood Canyon safety protocol in place to protect the traveling public. Motorists planning to travel on I-70, visit rest areas or use the recreation path in Glenwood Canyon should pay close attention to weather forecasts. If there is rain in the forecast, be prepared for a safety closure of I-70, rest areas and recreation path. CDOT recommends that travelers have a back up plan in the event that closures are necessary. If a closure is anticipated to last longer than two hours, CDOT continues to recommend that travelers use the northern alternate route.

Mudslides in July 2021 prompted an extended safety closure on I-70 for approximately two weeks. CDOT crews worked around the clock to remove boulders, dirt, rocks and other debris from the highway. Road repairs were also necessary, and were completed in December 2021. Since January, contractor partners Lawrence Construction and IHC Scott have focused on removing material from the Colorado River at six locations. The debris piles at these locations were created in summer 2021 by mudslides and other material flows. Removing material significantly helps protect I-70 and other infrastructure in the canyon, by lowering the risk of damage from high water or new mudslides. The Federal Highway Administration has concurred that mitigating the risk of runoff is critical to protecting the interstate and will reimburse the state’s costs pursuant to the emergency relief program supporting the repairs to I-70 over the past several months. Work is weather dependent and motorists are reminded to drive the posted speeds through the work zone and drive for conditions.

Stay Informed

Info about the river material removal is available at:

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