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I-70 reopens in Glenwood Canyon after Flash Flood Warning safety closure

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Posted at 3:24 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 20:02:57-04

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — Both directions of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon have reopened after a more than two hour closure. The Colorado Department of Transportation shut the interstate down Tuesday due to a flash flood warning.

The interstate was closed around 3 p.m. Closure points for westbound traffic were Exit 133 (Dotsero) to Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs). Closure points for eastbound traffic were from Exit 87 (West Rifle) to Exit 109 (Canyon Creek).

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar area until 5 p.m. CDOT said the closure would remain in place through the duration of the advisory.

A flash flood warning for the area will prompt CDOT to close I-70 through Glenwood Canyon to prevent drivers from getting caught in potential mudslides triggered by heavy rain over the burn scar.

That section of I-70 was shut down several times in June and July after multiple mudslides washed up on the roadway during heavy rain, at times trapping vehicles between slides.

CDOT said there is no easy solution to the problem. The source of the mudslides is the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar. The human-caused fire started August 10, 2020 in Glenwood Canyon and burned more than 32,000 acres in the White River National Forest. CDOT said due to the size of the burn scar and terrain of the canyon, mitigation is nearly impossible.

These closures may last a few minutes or several hours, depending on the incident. If the closure lasts longer than an hour, traffic will be diverted to the northern alternate route.

The northern alternate route includes at least a two-hour-long detour. Westbound traffic can exit at Silverthorne and travel north on Colorado 9 to U.S. 40, then west to Craig. From Craig, take Colorado 13 south to Rifle and back on I-70. Eastbound traffic will need to exit at Rifle and take the same route in the other direction.

Drivers planning to use I-70 or other high-country roads should bring supplies with them in case they need to spend extended time in the car, CDOT said. At the minimum, this can include water, snacks, flashlight, and a blanket.

Check on road conditions on CDOT's website here and sign up for traffic alerts here.