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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon will close in both directions for a 6 1/2-hour stretch on Wednesday and Thursday for emergency rockfall work, the Colorado Department of Transportation said.

The work will be done from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A 17-mile stretch of the interstate will be closed between mile marker 116 at Glenwood Springs and mile marker 133 at Dotsero. CDOT said the rockfall work is “critical.”

“Weather permitting, crews will utilize a military-style helicopter to deliver 13 steel posts erecting protective fencing,” project engineer Mike Fowler told the Vail Daily. “The full canyon closures are necessary because of the safety considerations when the military-style helicopter maneuvers and sets steel posts.”

CDOT said alternate routes during the closure are Colorado 13 at Rifle, Colorado 131 at Wolcott, Colorado 82 over Independence Pass and U.S. 40 through Steamboat Springs and Craig. No vehicles over 35 feet are allowed on Independence Pass.

Hanging Lake will be closed both days during the CDOT project. The rest area will close Tuesday night and all drivers are advised to leave the area before the closure. No vehicles will be allowed to leave the rest area until the interstate reopens.

Cyclists and walkers might experience periodic, 10-minute holds on the bike path near the Hanging Lake tunnel.

A rock slide on Feb. 15 closed a 24-mile stretch of the interstate in Glenwood Canyon for nearly a week, causing a 200-mile detour through Steamboat Springs and Craig. Earlier on Feb. 15,traffic was slowed in both directions after several boulders fell onto the highway.

On Feb. 20, one lane of the interstate reopened as drivers were guided by pace cars.  On Feb. 25, one lane in each direction reopened with a six-mile stretch of the eastbound lanes used, with one lane for eastbound traffic and the second lane for westbound drivers led by pace cars. Both decks partially reopened in March.

CDOT estimates the slide caused about $2 million to $5 million in damage to the interstate.

In May, CDOT started a permanent rockfall project in response to the February slide. It’s anticipated to be completed by Sept. 1 and budgeted to cost about $2 million.

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