Interstate 70 will not reopen at Glenwood Canyon this weekend after all, Colorado Department of Transportation officials said early Saturday afternoon.
"At this time, we are not in a position where we can open the road," said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford. “We understand that this is a vital artery for Colorado but even today our folks brought rocks down that weigh several tons, said Shailen Bhatt, CDOT Executive Director. “Our team is more confident that the end is in sight, but safety is paramount -- safety for our crews and safety for the traveling public,” Bhatt said.
Ford added that while crews have removed the larger boulders that blocked the interstate and damaged the highway, more work still needs to be done to remove other rocks and fully repair the interstate and stabilize the hillside.
CDOT officials did not have an estimated time of when the interstate would reopen for traffic.
Only one lane will open
Once I-70 reopens at Glenwood Canyon, only a single lane will allow a pilot car to direct traffic both ways.
Officials said the pilot car will direct drivers eastbound starting at exit 116 in Glenwood Springs. Westbound traffic will start at exit 129 in Bear Ranch.
Since only one lane will be open to traffic, drivers should expect at least an hour delay getting through the canyon during the pilot car operation, CDOT said.
It's possible the highway may also be closed at times due to the work being done, officials said.
Earlier this week, CDOT spokeswoman Tracy Trulove told Denver7 the one-way-at-a-time pilot car is expected to be used for several delays. After that, officials hope to open one lane in each direction.
It could be several weeks before the damage to the roadway walls and roadway are repaired and the interstate is fully open to regular traffic operations.
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. The detour adds 146 miles and about three hours to a regular trip from Wolcott to Rifle on I-70.
If you're on the Front Range heading westbound, use US 40 north to Steamboat Springs, then head west on US 40 to Craig and then south on CO 13 to Rifle and I-70.
For those in Summit County, take CO 9 from Silverthorne to US 40 in Steamboat Springs. Head west on US 40 to Craig, then south on CO 13 to Rifle and I-70.
Independence Pass, Cottonwood Pass and several other remote roads are closed during the winter.
Visiting the Aspen area
If you need to get to Aspen and are flying into Denver or Eagle, tourism officials in Aspen are recommending that you take Amtrak to get through Glenwood Canyon.
There is roadway, retaining wall and bridge/guardrail damage.
CDOT said crews are also doing rock mitigation and adding netting and fencing to the area.
Officials said about 30 cubic yards of material came down during two rock slides on Monday, one around 3 a.m. and another around 9 p.m.
An additional 160 cubic yards, about 16 loads of rock in a tandem dump truck, have been brought down by crews in the days since then.