Representative Lauren Boebert takes action to reopen I-70

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 9:51 PM MDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2021 at 10:21 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Representative Lauren Boebert is currently taking action to reopen the I-70 corridor through Glenwood Canyon. This comes after severe mudslides and flash flooding blocked several portions of I-70, burying the road in as much as 10 feet of mud, tearing down retaining walls, and damaging the roadway.

Representative Boebert, along with Governor Jared Polis are preparing to request a federal disaster declaration this week which would provide Colorado with federal resources to respond to this natural disaster. This comes after the Governor issued a state disaster declaration on Friday because of the damage from mudslides that forced the I-70 closure through Glenwood Canyon.

“We’ve seen I-70 closures before but mudslides & damage to this extent isn’t just an inconvenience,” said Congresswoman Lauren Boebert. “It’s a disaster that has created a real emergency for folks on the western slope who rely on this Interstate for essential goods & services.”

Representative Boebert has been actively monitoring the I-70 mudslides, and she received a briefing from Governor Polis and CDOT today. Congresswoman Boebert pledged to offer her full support to secure federal disaster assistance. She is planning to visit portions of the Interstate this week to see firsthand what needs to be done.

“We’re talking about people’s lives & livelihoods here. And we’ve got to get it reopened as soon as possible. Last week I announced I’ll be leading a bipartisan letter with the entire Colorado house of representatives delegation urging President Biden to approve Governor Polis’s request for a federal disaster declaration,” said Congresswoman Boebert.

Additionally, Representative Boebert plans to send a letter to the Department of Transportation to ask for help from the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program, after the Governor makes this official request.

“I am committed to finding a long term solution for an alternative to I-70 because while this is the worst shutdown of I-70 that we’ve seen in a very long time, it’s not the first and it won’t be the last,” said Congresswoman Boebert. “This is an important thoroughfare for Colorado in the Western United States. And the fact that we don’t have an efficient & reliable alternative is not appropriate or sustainable.”

CDOT crews were able to make significant progress this past weekend, hauling 440 loads of mud & debris over the two days. Each truck load equals 13 tons of material. The work that was done this weekend is providing better expanded access so experts can see these areas that may have the most amount of damage to determine what needs to be repaired and if the interstate needs to be repaved.

Today, crews picked up where things ended on Sunday, continuing to excavate the debris mud. Smaller areas still need to be cleaned eastbound from Hanging Lake Tunnel to Bair Ranch. Eastbound lanes have been cleared all the way to the MP 123.5 with rocks cleaned off. Also on the west side of the canyon, crews were able to remove a large boulder.

CDOT officials estimate that it could take a few days or even a few weeks to clear just one lane of traffic going each direction on the highway. We are told federal support is necessary to assist efforts to get I-70 reopened and reconnect Colorado.

“Last week into this weekend has been a period of moving as much material as quickly & as safely as possible so our engineers can take a look at what the conditions are of the roadway & get a sense for when a limited reopening might be possible,” said CDOT Northwest Colorado Communications Manager Elise Thatcher.

CDOT tells us a limited reopening likely means 1 lane in each direction.

CDOT officials tell us the $116,000,000.00 in Federal Emergency Aid requested will allow CDOT to move as quickly and safely as possible for hiring a contractor. The funds will also pay for clean up costs such as paying crews overtime, and for hotels so that they can be immediately available.

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