Denver-area Interstate 70 closure to force skiers to alternate routes
SUMMIT COUNTY – Locals heading to Denver and skiers coming to Summit County to hit the slopes will be dealing with Interstate 70 closures today and through the weekend.The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is closing the interstate in both directions between the Genesee and Colfax Avenue exits to replace steel girders on the C-470 bridge over I-70.The girder was improperly installed and fell on a car May 15, shearing off the top of the car and killing a man, his wife and her unborn baby and the couple’s young daughter.Contractors originally scheduled repair work on the girder for last week, but inclement weather forced CDOT officials to cancel it.Weather permitting, the closures will be in effect beginning at 7 p.m. today until noon on Saturday; from 7 p.m. on Saturday until noon on Sunday; and from 7 p.m. Sunday until 5:30 a.m. Monday. Meanwhile, all four Summit County ski resorts are open, joined by Vail Mountain today and Beaver Creek on Saturday.The news has ski areas trying to get the word out so people can better plan and avoid frustration while driving to the slopes.”I think the timing’s unfortunate,” said Breckenridge Ski Resort spokeswoman Emily Jacob. “But we want to be as cooperative as we can to get all the highways in shape for the season.”She doubted the news would deter skiers and boarders because there often is a lot of pent-up excitement for opening days at the resorts.”I think there’s enough excitement to get people in their cars,” Jacob said. “And if it does start snowing, people take advantage of that, especially in early season. There’s that feeling in the air that people want to get back on snow.”CDOT has been working with Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) officials to keep them informed about the impending closure.”It’s better that it’s happening now than later when all resorts are open,” said CSCUSA spokeswoman Ashley Boyden. “It has to be done. We’d rather get it done and over with. As long as people are aware and plan ahead, they can still get to the mountains and have a great time skiing.””We realize this is important work that has to be done,” said Kelly Ladyga, communications director for Vail Resorts. “Public safety comes first. We actually encouraged them to do it this weekend because each weekend into the season, we’ll just get busier and busier. We’re happy they’re getting it over now.”She said ski resort officials have been e-mailing passholders and notifying others they know are staying in their lodges about the closures and alternate routes to get from the Front Range to the High Country.”Skiers and riders should be aware of, but not discouraged by this weekend’s traffic advisories,” said CSCUSA president Ron Perlman. “Several alternate routes will provide access to the ski and snowboard resorts.” Loveland opened Oct. 15, Arapahoe Basin opened Oct. 22, Copper Mountain Resort opened Nov. 5, Breckenridge and Keystone opened Nov. 12, and Vail and Beaver Creek open this weekend. Ski Cooper will open Nov. 24.Some resorts are offering lodging deals for those who want to avoid the closures.For snow reports and a listing of alternate routes for this weekend’s I-70 closures, visit http://www.coloradoski.com.Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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