CDOT tames Georgetown rocks; I70 will be open Wednesday |

CDOT tames Georgetown rocks; I70 will be open Wednesday

A large boulder careens down the hill. The Colorado Department of Transportation today April 5th, 2011, closed interstate I-70 in both directions from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm to do some rock scaling work along the cliffs high above the town of Georgetown. They wanted to take off potentially dangerous and loose rocks that could fall on the highway. If work is not completed today they may have to close the highway for a second day tomorrow, April 6, 2011. Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post

Interstate 70 will remain open Wednesday following the completion of rockfall work near Georgetown that caused a full shutdown of the highway Tuesday, the Colorado Department of Transportation said. Crews were able to remove all the rocks considered an immediate threat to the highway or nearby homes Tuesday, but there are a number of boulders left that could cause another full closure in the coming weeks. The rocks “warrant further examination,” according to CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson, who said CDOT crews hope to be able to anchor the rocks to prevent them from falling, but in the event they are unable to find space for an anchor system, another closure will be required to allow crews to remove the remaining boulders. “If a solid section of slope isn’t available, we may have to have another lengthy closure of I-70,” Wilson said. “But at this point that remains a possibility of other possibilities.”CDOT will determine whether another closure is necessary within the next week or two, Wilson said.

The highway will be open Wednesday, but there will be periodic 20-minute traffic stops at Georgetown and Silver Plume as crews continue rockfall work. Work began Tuesday morning removing 40 loose boulders, ranging in size from 2 -16 feet in diameter, located about 300 feet above the highway near Georgetown, shutting down the interstate for eight hours from the Silverthorne exit to the Empire Junction/U.S. 40 exit. CDOT officials initially said the same stretch of highway might be shut down again Wednesday, as it was unclear how much work needed to be done. Transportation officials said the work went fairly smoothly, though one boulder did fall into a protective net, which will need to be replaced. No rocks fell on the highway or nearby homes during the work. The work left only two alternative routes around the closure, one of which also became blocked off Tuesday afternoon by two semi-trucks on the north side of Hoosier Pass. CDOT had to remove the trucks with heavy-tow vehicles.The rock cluster was discovered last month, threatening to fall on the highway or nearby homes. Residents in the area were evacuated during the work as a safety precaution. CDOT officially announced the closure early last week, saying the project had been delayed because helicopters, needed to deliver materials to the worksite, had been unavailable due to recent wildfires.Transportation officials said the highway had to be closed during the day, as the work couldn’t be done in the dark, and needed to be completed as soon as possible for safety reasons.Local ski resorts offered deals and extra hours for guests who braved the travel complications Tuesday and will continue to offer them today, despite the highway being reopened. Keystone added an extra hour of slope time Tuesday, staying open until 5 p.m. so guests could ski right up until the highway reopened.The resort will be open late again today.An offer of 50 percent off any rental or demo package at Keystone Sports or Breckenridge Sports will also continue today and both Keystone and Breckenridge are offering condos for $99, in some cases a 40 or 50 percent discount.

See a video of the rock work on the Denver Post website

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