Glenwood Springs Workers successfully broke up a huge boulder threatening to tumble down a cliff onto Interstate 70 in western Colorado on Wednesday, days after a rock slide closed the highway.
Because the blasting brought down additional rocks, crews will have additional cleanup work today along with drainage work and pavement repair, according to a Colorado Department of Transportation news release.
CDOT said through its Twitter account that it will “make every effort” to reopen a lane in each direction today.
Initially, one lane will be open in each direction while repairs to the highway are completed, CDOT spokeswoman Mindy Crane said.
Workers used compressor-powered drills to break up a boulder 20 feet in diameter that was sitting 900 feet above the highway in Glenwood Canyon. A helicopter hauled the drilling equipment to the site.
A 17-mile stretch of I-70 has been closed since Monday after the slide rained boulders onto the road and punched gaping holes in an elevated section. One of the detours takes drivers along U.S. Highway 40 through downtown Steamboat Springs.
Victor Domenico, owner of Domenico Transportation in Denver, said the 200-mile detour around the I-70 slide was doubling the cost of some truck deliveries between Denver and western Colorado. The longer trip increases fuel and payroll costs, and some drivers have to lay over for a night to stay within federal limits on their hours behind the wheel, he said.
The slide blocked the main driving route from the Denver airport to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s four Aspen-area mountains, but the company reported that more than half its winter visitors fly into the Aspen airport.
Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a reservations agency, said he had heard no reports of cancellations.
The slide did not affect access to most of the state’s other ski areas.
A 1995 rock slide on I-70 in Glenwood Canyon killed three people. A slide on Thanksgiving Day in 2004 closed the highway and required nearly $700,000 worth of repairs. No one was hurt because the highway previously had been closed for an unrelated crash.