DENVER (KDVR) — U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) is pushing for a new piece of legislation that aims to find a viable detour to Interstate 70 when it must be closed through Glenwood Canyon.

The “I-70 Detour Act” would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to study I-70’s mountain corridor and consider alternative routes around Glenwood Canyon. According to the proposed legislation, the department must consider improvements to both I-70 and alternatives, including Catherine’s Store Road and Cottonwood Pass.

Within two years, DOT would then be required to make a recommendation to Congress to fund construction for the project. 

“I’m 100% in support of just the investigation and trying to find some new routes around that are smoother,” Ian Kelley said. 

Kelley is the General Manager of Wine Country Inn in Palisade. 

“As soon as I-70 shut down it hurts us significantly. The amount of reservations that we’ll see canceling on a weekend like that is just huge,” he said. “We can go from a sold-out weekend to maybe half our guests showing up.”

In July 2021, mudslides destroyed several sections of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon forcing a full closure for two weeks. Due to unpaved, steep and narrow mountain passes in the area, CDOT’s recommended detour took drivers on a more than 100-mile journey through Steamboat Springs to bypass the canyon. According to CDOT, it adds approximately two and a half hours of drive time. 

“I even have a lot of vendors that will not deliver and will not send trucks unless I-70 is open,” Kelley said. 

Rep. Boebert estimates the economic impact when I-70 shuts down to be $1 million per hour. 

“The I-70 Detour Act is a locally-driven solution that will ensure commerce, tourism and the West Slope won’t come to a screeching halt the next time a natural disaster or major traffic accident closes down I-70 for an extended period of time. The time is now and we can’t squander another 20 years talking about how we need to fix I-70,” she said in a statement. 

“CDOT and the administration acted swiftly and boldly to re-open Glenwood Canyon ahead of schedule last summer following the catastrophic mudslides. At their worst, the slides were almost ten feet fall and covered hundreds of yards of I-70, with CDOT crews working around the clock to remove nearly 43,000 tons of material,” CDOT spokesman Matt Inzeo said. 

Additionally, CDOT says it is actively working to find alternative routes, including Cottonwood Pass. 

“The administration made a federal earmark request to pay for improvements at Blue Hill, one of the most critical stretches on Cottonwood Pass, and hopes that the congresswoman and Colorado’s federal delegation ensure this request is supported and approved,” Inzeo said. 

CDOT has already approved funding to do a survey figuring out what land would need to be acquired to make improvements on Cottonwood Pass that would allow it to handle additional interstate traffic.

“The Polis administration continues to urge Congress to focus on providing this funding to advance state plans to fortify the alternate route. We welcome any additional federal assistance in paying for resiliency improvements,” CDOT said.