EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. - A 16-mile stretch of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon will remain closed until at least mid-day Thursday because of damage caused by a rock slide.
The Colorado Department of Transportation hopes to open one lane of eastbound I-70 on Thursday afternoon. When it opens, the plan is to have a pilot car lead traffic through one way at a time.
The one-way-at-a-time pilot car is expected to be used for about one week. Drivers should expect long delays.
After that, said CDOT spokeswoman Tracy Trulove, there will be one lane open in each direction for about a month. She told Denver7 that was the best case scenario.
The highway is currently closed from Glenwood Springs to Gypsum.
The rock slide that damaged the highway happened just after 9 p.m. Monday at mile point 124.2, directly west of Hanging Lake Tunnel and eight miles east of Glenwood Springs. It was the second rock slide in an 18 hour period, in the same location.
The rock slide hit a semi truck. The trailer was stuck in the rubble, but no one was hurt.
Colorado State Patrol crews helped to pull out the semi Tuesday morning and cleared others that were stuck in the canyon.
"It could have easily been me," said Chris Boyd, a truck driver trying to get to San Bernardino, Calif. "It's really bad. Those are big boulders. They're not small, little rocks hitting the side of truck, they took the rear end of a semi out."
Truck driver Errol Stoner of Maryland told Denver7 it's a wonder no one perished.
CDOT said crews are doing rock mitigation and adding netting and fencing to the area.
CDOT crews have to repair the road which was also damaged in the slide.
Officials said it'll take about ten days to get one lane open in each direction. However, drivers should expect to only have one lane in each direction for about a month while crews finish repairs.
There is roadway, retaining wall, bridge/guardrail damage that will need to be assessed for safety.
The alternate route for westbound motorists is north on CO 131 at Wolcott to Steamboat Springs, west on US 40 to Craig, then south on CO 13 to Rifle and back to I-70. This is a 203-mile alternate route that will take about three hours and 50 minutes to travel. The detour adds 146 miles and about three hours to a regular trip from Wolcott to Rifle on I-70, which is 67 miles or about 45 minutes.
Several truck drivers told Denver7 they're losing money.
Donel Butler said he was on his way to Rifle to pick up a load but was directed off the highway at Dotsero. He said when it became apparent that the highway wouldn't be opening at all on Tuesday, the customer called and cancelled.
"It was a thousand dollar run," Butler said. "Now, I've got to drive 500 miles for a five hundred dollar run."
Two rock slides Monday
There were two rock slides in the same place within 18 hours on Monday.
The first rock slide happened around 3 a.m. on Monday. CDOT tweeted then that crews closed I-70 in both directions in Glenwood Canyon near the Hanging Lake Tunnel.
Officials said rocks fell from the mountains and blocked the eastbound lanes. Crews worked in the westbound lanes to clear the mess. Debris was cleared a couple of hours later but the large rocks were still on the side of the road.