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Glenwood Canyon closures costing trucking companies money, driving up costs for consumers

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Posted at 4:28 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 21:22:26-04

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — Interstate 70, because of the Glenwood Canyon closure, is becoming a drive even the professionals want to avoid, and it's driving up costs for truckers and consumers.

"It takes time and money out of your pocket," said Carlos Valdez, a truck driver.

Valdez was stuck in the Glenwood Canyon traffic terror last week.

"Three hours extra on my drive time. It took me about 150 miles out of my way," he said.

That’s a problem because not only did he miss his next pickup as a result, but he doesn’t get paid for the extra miles he put on going through the detour.

"If you’re getting paid 1,100 miles, practical miles, and you go 1,400 miles, we don’t get paid for the extra 300," said Valdez.

Extra miles means extra gas Valdez has to pay out of his own pocket.

"Those costs have to be passed on," explains Greg Fulton, president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association.

Fulton says they are already seeing higher gas prices as a result, especially on the Western Slope.

"You see it in higher fuel prices, you’re seeing it in food, you’re going to see it in various other products," said Fulton.

Shipment delays and product shortages are coming up next.

"There will be a backlog that will have to catch up. Customers, rather than reroute freight, we’ve pushed deliveries and rescheduled them, hoping this highway opens up sooner rather than later," said Aaron Kinney, president of Denver Intermodal Express.

Kinney says the canyon closure is costing them anywhere between 10% and 20% more on their shipments west.

"We’ve had to add up to 200 to 300 miles increase routing, which adds expense to us as a company. We then pass that onto our customers with no choice. They have no choice but to pass it on to their customers," said Kinney.

With I-70 expected to partially re-open on Saturday, Kinney is crossing his fingers it stays that way. If it does, he says it will still be weeks before they are caught up on their orders.