Glenwood Canyon rock slide, hazardous weather close parts of I-70
Multiple closures of Interstate 70 have taken place Tuesday, May 21 following hazardous weather conditions, meaning Craig and Steamboat Springs may see significant traffic flow as a result.
A rock slide closed I-70 in both directions through Glenwood Canyon early Tuesday morning. A safety closure was also in effect at Vail Pass, amid a May snowstorm that is creating hazardous road conditions in the high country.
Road crews expect to open one westbound lane of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon at some point Tuesday afternoon, Colorado Department of Transportation said in a call with reporters.
Eastbound lanes are open, but both directions of I-70 will be closed intermittently through the canyon Tuesday afternoon while crews drill into the boulders, set explosive charges and clear the debris.
“All lanes will need to be closed when they downsize these rocks,” said Ty Ortiz, a geohazards specialist for CDOT. Crews may also work on scaling the hillside later Tuesday afternoon, which would also require a road closure.
“We will try to keep one lane westbound open, but there will be these periodic and intermittent closures when we are doing that work,” CDOT spokeswoman Lisa Schwantes said.
The rockfall brought down several large rocks the size of SUVs, Schwantes said, and those boulders are still blocking part of the interstate.
For westbound drivers, CDOT and Colorado State Patrol recommend going north through Steamboat Springs on state Highway 131, west through Craig on U.S. Highway 40, and south to Rifle on state Highway 13.
Cottonwood Pass is not a recommended alternate route due to slick, muddy conditions.
According to CDOT, the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the mountains of Summit and Eagle counties through midnight tonight. Eight to 18 inches of snow is forecast, and motorists are advised that chain and traction laws are in effect, and safety closures should be anticipated.
With an above-average snowpack following a snowy winter, local firefighters and wildlife experts are expecting a mild fire season this year, especially at higher elevations.