Several agencies involved in I-70 cleanup and repair through Glenwood Canyon

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FILE – Int his Thursday, July 22, 2021, file photo, Colorado Department of Transportation crews work to clear mud and debris from the eastbound deck of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon, Colo., near Bair Ranch after a flash flood. Authorities say about 20 people spent the night inside a highway tunnel along I-70 in Glenwood Canyon after rain over an area burned by a wildfire once again triggered mudslides in Western Colorado. The people were caught in their vehicles Thursday night, July 29, 2021 and it took crews nine hours to carve out a path through the mud to reach them about 6:30 a.m. Friday. (Chelsea Self/Glenwood Springs Post Independent via AP, File)

DENVER (KDVR) — As efforts to cleanup and repair Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon continue, several different state and federal agencies are pitching in to assist in reopening the road as soon as possible.

Gov. Jared Polis issued two disaster declarations for the area after several mudslides caused extensive damage to the road and the viaduct structure. The declarations allow use of the Colorado National Guard and seek federal funding.

Polis requested $116 million in funding from the Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief program on Sunday. 

One of the declarations also activated the state’s Emergency Operations Plan which centralizes communication between the agencies involved in the project.

Alternate routes and secondary roadways

Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Department of Transportation have been handling the traffic aspect, including alternate routes and managing the closure points on the highway. Now CSP is coordinating with CONG to monitor points on other routes with increased traffic.

The Colorado State Emergency Operations Center is overseeing the project and is focused on three points:

  • Clear the debris from I-70, repair necessary infrastructure and reopen the highway led by CDOT. 
  • Clear or mitigate debris in the waterways that threaten critical infrastructure led by the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.
  • Ensure the safety of drivers and communities along alternate routes led by CSP.

Although a timeline has not been provided, CDOT’s goal is to complete emergency repairs and opening all lanes before ski season begins.

Economic and environmental impacts

As of Monday, more than 1,440 truckloads of debris and nearly 26 million pounds of material have been removed since July 30.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers and the United States Forest Service are working with the SEOC on debris management and recovery in the Colorado River.

Several state and federal agencies assessed the damage and the results will determine the amount of assistance funds granted and create a debris management plan. 

The Colorado Business Emergency Operations is reviewing and determining the economic impact on local businesses. An economic impact report for Western slope producers is expected by Aug.11.

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