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I-70 reopens through Glenwood Canyon following flash flood warning

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Posted at 4:00 PM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-05 19:20:20-04

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — Editor's note: Both directions of I-70 through the Canyon are back open following a flash flood warning issued Tuesday afternoon.

Our previous story is below.

Both directions of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon are closed due to a flash flood warning issued for the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar and Glenwood Canyon.

The National Weather Service issued the flash flood warning at 3:15 p.m.

Both eastbound and westbound I-70 are closed from Glenwood Springs (exit 116) to Dotsero (exit 133) in order to protect drivers from flash floods and mudslides.

Drivers should use or the Colorado Department of Transportation's free mobile app to plan an alternate route.

CDOT recommends drivers use the northern alternate route on US Highway 40. It will add roughly 2.5 hours to your travel time, compared to traveling on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon.

Drivers heading west from the Denver metro area can reach the northern route via US Highway 40, Colorado Highway 9 or Colorado Highway 131.

For eastbound I-70 travelers, a traffic control point is in place at eastbound West Rifle (exit 87) to help motorists to the northern alternate route.

A brief look back at 2021's mudslides and damage

Throughout much of the summer of 2021, rain and subsequent debris slides caused multiple closures along Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon.

In July 2021, the interstate was closed for about two weeks after mudslides covered parts of the highway with rock and sludge up to 15 feet high in places, causing "extreme damage.” In that closure, and many of the other shorter ones, CDOT crews had to quickly clear any dirt, boulders, rocks and other debris, and then check to see if the road required repairs. After the major slide in July, the repairs continued into December.

In the wake of these closures, CDOT and its partners have been working since January to remove debris from the Colorado River at six locations in preparation for possible debris flows this spring and summer.

Those six spots were identified as the ones hit the hardest by the 2021 slides. Crews removed the debris to avoid risks related to high water and to protect the infrastructure in the canyon.

The Federal Highway Administration agreed that it is critical to protect the interstate in this way, and will reimburse the costs.