I-70 through Glenwood Canyon to close Wednesday, Thursday

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — Interstate 70, the main connection between the Front Range and the Western Slope, will close in both directions for 6 1/2-hour stretches on Wednesday and Thursday for rockfall mitigation work, the Colorado Department of Transportation said Tuesday.

The work will be done from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A 17-mile stretch of the interstate will be closed between mile marker 116 at Glenwood Springs and mile marker 133 at Dotsero.

The closure is needed for helicopter operations associated with the rockfall mitigation project. CDOT said all vehicles must exit the interstate  and queuing will not be allowed.

CDOT said alternate routes during the closure are Colorado 82 over Independence Pass or Colorado 9 and U.S. 40 through Steamboat Springs and Craig. No vehicles over 35 feet are allowed on Independence Pass.

Commercial vehicle parking will be available at Exit 133 in Dotsero. The Colorado State Patrol will work to stage commercial vehicles on Interstate 70 in Glenwood Springs.

A rock slide on Feb. 15 closed a 24-mile stretch of the interstate in Glenwood Canyon for nearly a week, causing a 200-mile detour through Steamboat Springs and Craig. Earlier on Feb. 15,traffic was slowed in both directions after several boulders fell onto the highway.

On Feb. 20, one lane of the interstate reopened as drivers were guided by pace cars.  On Feb. 25, one lane in each direction reopened with a six-mile stretch of the eastbound lanes used, with one lane for eastbound traffic and the second lane for westbound drivers led by pace cars. Both decks partially reopened in March.

CDOT estimates the slide caused about $2 million to $5 million in damage to the interstate.

In May, CDOT started a permanent rockfall project in response to the February slide. It’s anticipated to be completed by Sept. 1 and budgeted to cost about $2 million.