I-70 rock slide reroutes motorists through Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

I-70 rock slide reroutes motorists through Craig

A massive rock slide on Interstate 70 east of Glenwood Springs on Thursday afternoon shut down holiday travel on the major route, redirecting thousands of motorists to U.S. Highway 40 through Craig and Steamboat Springs.

Jonathan Furman, an employee at the Loaf & Jug off U.S. 40 in Craig, felt the effects of an increase of motorists when he was called in to work five hours early on Thanksgiving Day.

“I’ve had at least 300 people ask for directions,” he said. “It has been hectic in here.”

No one was injured, and no vehicles were damaged when tons of rock crashed onto I-70 at about 8 a.m. Thursday morning. The road that suffered gaping holes reopened with one lane heading in each direction by about 4 p.m. Friday, officials from Colorado Department of Transportation said. On Thursday and most of Friday, motorists were forced to take a 200-mile detour on Colorado Highway 13 and Colorado Highway 131.

The detour could have rerouted as many as 25,000 motorists through Craig, CDOT spokeswoman Stacey Stegman said. Repairs to the interstate may cost as much as $1 million and take months, she said.

Craig police Officer Frank Schmedeke said he noticed an increase in traffic, but the force didn’t ramp up patrol. He said the Colorado State Patrol had been busy Thursday and Friday with accidents and speeding motorists, however CSP troopers were unavailable for comment Friday afternoon.

More than a usual amount of tractor-trailers seemed to fill Kmart’s parking lot and travel Victory Way. Cecil Ahnstedt of Loveland didn’t seem to mind the detour that he called “good for sight-seeing.” Another woman traveling to Grand Junction used the diversion to shop at Craig’s Kmart. Jeremy Clark, a tractor-trailer driver with Fowler Trucking L.L.C. noticed a sizable increase in traffic on U.S. 40. Though Clark wasn’t rerouted, he estimated the detour would cost truckers an increase of about $85 for fuel, not to mention wasted time.

“That would really screw things up,” he said. “Going 200 miles out of the way is a lot.”

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com

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