I-70 Glenwood Canyon Update: Monday, August 16

August 16, 2021 - Northwestern Colorado

Pictured above: continued slide material removal.

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

Crews were able to open one lane in each direction at mile point 123.5 at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14, several hours earlier than anticipated. The reopening went extremely well with minor congestion through the canyon at the one-lane configuration. CDOT will continue to monitor traffic through the canyon and urges motorists to keep their eyes on the road while driving through the mudslide area.

Crews had a very successful day on Sunday, Aug. 15, getting a total of 146 loads of material hauled out of the canyon. There was a brief interruption and closure of I-70 at 4:42 p.m. by the request of the Colorado State Patrol because of a rain cell that passed over the canyon and produced some rain from about mile point 123 to Hanging Lake Tunnel. The cell was small and fast-moving and after discussion with NOAA it was isolated and the agency reported dry air in the lower atmosphere. After sweeping the canyon, it reopened at approximately 5:20 p.m

Weather held up for most of the weekend. No official flash flood watch was issued. 

Conditions will be similar to last weekend on both Monday and Tuesday, with isolated storm chances expected over Glenwood Canyon. Heavy rainfall is unlikely, but there is still a low potential for near-threshold rainfall if an isolated stronger storm moves over the burn scar. 

A sharp pattern change arrives Wednesday, leading to a good chance for showers and storms over all of western Colorado. Any thunderstorms will be capable of moderate to heavy rainfall, and likely exceed thresholds over the burn scar. With a little luck, cloud cover and cooler temperatures could limit thunderstorm coverage, leading to more showery precipitation and lighter rates. However, current model trends this morning indicate a high risk for excessive rainfall across the area. 

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 still encouraged to check cotrip.org and the weather forecast before driving through the canyon.

Interstate Clean up

CDOT maintenance crews continued to clean debris flows yesterday on the east end of the canyon on westbound I-70 at Ty Gulch, around mile point 129. Crews hauled out 80 loads from the north side of the interstate with two excavators. One loading and one behind the wall gathered slide material and mud in the drainage then fed it to the other excavator. 

Today’s priority for the east end will be to continue cleaning out the drainage in the same area as there is still a massive amount of slide material. 

The recreation path continues to be closed as well as Bair Ranch, Shoshone and Grizzly Creek rest areas. The No Name rest area is open.

Engineering Update

Engineering teams completed visual inspections at mile point 123.5 (Blue Gluch) for the fifth consecutive day and the inspections confirm that damaged I-70 infrastructure can safely accommodate one lane in each direction at this location with certain interim repairs prior to the overall emergency repair contract work. 

The Engineering team responded to the I-70 closure yesterday and monitored the rain cell at mile point 123.5. No material flow was observed. The team assisted with the all-clear at approximately 5:20 p.m. Safety of motorists and crews working on emergency repairs continue to be CDOT’s number one priority. 

General Update

Please note that all work is weather-dependent. Rain on the Grizzly Creek burn area may prompt additional mudslides.

CDOT would also like to extend a sincere thank you to the public for their patience during the extended closure of Glenwood Canyon. Numerous signs like the one below have been placed at the closure points. Long hours have been spent ensuring the safety of motorists while crews work quickly to clean and repair I-70. These signs mean so much to all those working through this emergency event, especially for those who have been away from their families to help serve the people of Colorado.