Canyon reopens to two-way, head-to-head traffic |

Canyon reopens to two-way, head-to-head traffic

Cars line up behind the first westbound pace car near Dotsero Thursday afternoon as Colorado Department of Transportation officials finally reopened Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon to full-time, two-way traffic, but in a head-to-head configuration on the eastbound lanes.
Tracy Trulove | CDOT

Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon will open to two-way traffic in a head-to-head configuration starting at 4 p.m. this afternoon, Colorado Department of Transportation officials said in a telephone news conference.

That means there will not be extended daytime closures of the canyon, as there have been for the past four days.

However, there still may be intermittent traffic stops during the day as work continues to clean up after the Feb. 15 rockslide that closed the interstate for the better part of six days last week, Amy Ford, CDOT director of communications, said.

Although traffic will be allowed to move in both directions using the eastbound lanes through the six-mile rockfall zone at the same time, pace cars will still be used to control speeds and ensure safety in the head-to-head configuration.

“People will still be traveling through a restricted environment,” Ford said. “We will have 12-foot-wide lanes, but there will be no shoulders. Because of that, cars will still have to run behind a pace car.”

CDOT will have two pace cars leading east and westbound traffic at the same time between the No Name exit and the east side of the Hanging Lake Tunnels, CDOT Region 3 spokeswoman Tracy Trulove said.

Two additional traffic-control vehicles and Colorado State Patrol troopers will also be assisting as the pace cars will need to take turns maneuvering in and out of the two lanes of traffic.

“There will not be as robust delineation between the traffic lanes as we’ve had during previous construction work, which is another reason for the pace cars,” Trulove said. “We don’t want people going too fast and crossing the double yellow lines, so we need to keep speeds down.”

That also means that delays getting through Glenwood Canyon of up to an hour or more should still be anticipated, especially during peak travel times, she said.

Ford said the goal for CDOT now is to get to a point where it can open one lane of traffic on both the east and westbound side of the interstate.

“When we do get to that point, there will still be a lot of repair work going on and intermittent delays,” she said.

In the meantime, a 10-foot width limit will remain in effect during the head-to-head configuration, though normal commercial truck traffic will be permitted. Wide loads are required to take either the northerly I-70 detour via U.S. 40, or the southern route via U.S. routes 50, 24 and 285.

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