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State of emergency to be declared for Glenwood Canyon

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 3:23 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - At 2 p.m., Gov. Jared Polis held a press conference regarding the situation in Glenwood Canyon. The governor said he will declare a state of emergency due to the disaster on I-70 in Glenwood Canyon. Gov. Polis said he will also request a federal declaration under the Stafford Act.

At this time, due to the frequency of heavy rains and mudslides in the area, I-70 Glenwood Canyon is closed indefinitely. Best case scenario, the closure will only last a few days, but realistically it could last a few weeks.

Due to the ongoing monsoon patterns, Colorado Department of Transportation is limited in their ability to remove debris to be able to conduct permanent repairs on the damaged upper and lower decks of I-70. The extent of damage to the road is unknown at this time.

Immediately, nothing can be done to slow the debris flow causing the closure of interstate. Monsoon season must conclude before crews can safely clean up and repair the road.

“CDOT is focused on two immediate areas of concern: removing debris so that we can scope the needs for permanent repairs and focusing on sections of the viaduct structures where the parapet and scallop walls have been destroyed,” said CDOT Director Shoshana Lew. “Beyond these immediate priorities CDOT’s operational concerns include establishing safe westbound passage through the canyon for CDOT staff, the Shoshone power plant dam, and Xcel. Reestablishing consistent power will be necessary for CDOT operations staff to resume normal operations of the Hanging Lake Tunnel complex.  Given the extensive damage to some areas, it will be some time before traffic can move in the manner it normally would.”

Gov. Polis has ordered the interstate to be open as quickly as possible, but only when it is safe to do so. Once the road is reopened, only one lane of traffic will be open each way. The governor hopes to restore the interstate to its full functionality by ski season.

For more updates on I-70 road closures, please visit cotrip.org.

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