I-70 in Glenwood Canyon reopened with pilot cars, limited hours after rock slide

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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. -- Vehicles are able to travel on Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon again, but with some restrictions, after a rock slide closed it for nearly a week.

The 24-mile stretch between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum was closed just after 10 p.m. Feb. 15 because of the slide that happened near milemarker 124, west of Hanging Lake Tunnel).

Earlier on Feb. 15, traffic was slowed in both directions after several boulders fell onto the highway. The closure forced a 203-mile detour through Craig and Steamboat Springs.

But crews with the Colorado Department of Transportation have been able to clear enough debris to allow some vehicle traffic during the late-afternoon, evening and early-morning hours.

A pilot vehicle will be used to take traffic in one lane in one direction at a time. Delays are expected to be about one hour even with the pilot vehicle, CDOT said.

Eastbound traffic will travel in one lane starting at Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs) to the Grizzly Creek rest area, where the pilot car will pick up traffic.

Westbound traffic will travel in one lane starting at Exit 129 (Bair Ranch) to the east side of the Hanging Lake Tunnel bore, where the pilot car will begin.

There will be a coned-off lane for the Colorado State Patrol, emergency services vehicles, law enforcement and CDOT/contractor vehicles.

Rock slide in Glenwood Canyon. (Photo: Matt Hobbs, Alpine Aviation)

Rock slide in Glenwood Canyon. (Photo: Matt Hobbs, Alpine Aviation)

The pilot vehicle program will be in effect from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. The interstate will be closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to allow crews to continue to work.

Full repairs to the damaged highway could take a few weeks to complete, CDOT said. As of Sunday, about 400 tons of rock have been removed.

Front Range drivers going westbound are advised to use U.S. 40 through Steamboat Springs and Craig to Highway 13 to Rifle.

Drivers in Summit County going westbound should use Highway 9 in Silverthorne, then U.S. 40 through Steamboat Springs and Craig.

Drivers in Eagle County going westbound should use Highway 131 at Wolcott to Steamboat Springs and Craig.

It's a 203-mile alternate route that will take nearly four hours to travel. The detour adds 146 miles and about three hours to a regular trip from Wolcott to Rifle.

U.S. 50 is available in Grand Junction for eastbound drivers and for westbound drivers by way of U.S. 24/285 through the Salida area from the Front Range.

CDOT said there is construction on U.S. 24 over Trout Creek Pass east of Johnson Village in Chaffee County into early March. Some blasting and up to 30-minute delays can be encountered.

Cottonwood Pass in Eagle County and Independence Pass are closed and not available as alternate routes. Frying Pan Road and Hagerman Pass are not recommended alternate routes, CDOT said.

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