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I-70 nightmare: Flooded interstate strands Denver drivers for hours

Traffic backed up for miles and people left their vehicles to chat with other drivers caught in the mess
Posted: 11:31 PM, Aug 07, 2022
Updated: 2022-08-08 08:30:11-04
aug 7 2022 flooding

DENVER — People stuck on a flooded out I-70 near the Brighton exit in Denver on Sunday evening waiting for several hours with few options.

Fast-moving waters flooded the interstate, shutting down traffic in both directions. The Denver Fire Department reported rescuing 11 people from the location and there were no injuries.

Drivers told Denver7 reporter Pattrik Perez conditions on the highway changed quickly as water pooled on the interstate and the deluge limited visibility. A man named Christian said he was driving along I-70 when water suddenly went over his car near York Street.

"What the hell, you know? Like, what happened? I had no idea this had happened," he said.

People stranded on flooded I-70 share what happened

He wasn't able to open his car door, so he escaped the flooding through the windows.

"But I'm OK right now," he said.

Traffic backed up for miles and people left their vehicles to chat with other drivers caught in the mess with nowhere to go. Eventually the flood waters receded enough to allow for some drivers to pass and the interstate reopened.

I-70 shut down: Multiple cars disabled during flooding

When Denver7 inquired about Sunday evening's flooding, especially around I-70, CDOT responded with the following explanation:

Yes, flooding occurred in the Central 70 Project area. The Central 70 Project is still an active construction project. Our drainage network is not yet complete, though it is nearing completion. Once our drainage system is fully complete, the lowered section of I-70 where flooding happened this evening is expected to withstand a 100-year storm event. Every construction project runs the risk of flooding while it's in an interim phase. To help offset flooding from a system that is not yet complete, our contractor, Kiewit, is able to mobilize to help pump water out. The Central 70 Project is going to conduct a thorough investigation to determine what exactly caused the flooding this evening. Fortunately, as an active construction project, if there are any system failures we are able to go in and remediate any issues that occurred during this event. However, without conducting the investigation, we do not know if there was a system failure. We do know that 46th South Avenue is currently being constructed as a part of our Project between Brighton Boulevard and York Street above I-70, directly above where the flooding in the lowered section occurred.

This section is not yet paved creating exceptionally muddy conditions that may have contributed to flooding. This is one area that we are going to be looking at during our investigation.