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I-70 reopens through Glenwood Canyon after closure 2 days in a row

Potential flash flooding caused the closure
i-70 open.png
Posted at 3:58 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 22:38:34-04

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — Both directions of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon have reopened Wednesday evening. It was the second day in a row the interstate closed due to the potential for flash flooding in the area.

The interstate was closed around 3:45 p.m. and reopened around 8:20 p.m., according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Closure points for westbound traffic were Exit 133 (Dotsero) to Exit 87 (West Rifle). Closure points for eastbound traffic were from Exit 87 (West Rifle) to Exit 109 (Canyon Creek).

Just after 6 p.m., CDOT said the safety closure was still in place as crews cleaned two mudslides 1-3 inches thick.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for areas including the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar, portions of the Flat Tops, Colorado River Basin, and the Gore and Elk Mountains through 8 p.m. Wednesday. CDOT said the closure will 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 has been shut down several times in June and July after mudslides washed up on the roadway, 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.