Road crews still working to remove loose rock, open Interstate 70 |

Road crews still working to remove loose rock, open Interstate 70

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Crews struggled today to remove loose rock above Interstate 70 through scenic Glenwood Canyon after a rock slide sent boulders as big as vans crashing onto the road.

No one was hurt during the slide early Thanksgiving Day, because a truck crash had closed the road at the time. A rockslide in 1995 claimed three lives in the canyon that parallels the Colorado River.

More than three dozen boulders came down in the latest rock slide, some digging six foot holes in the pavement.

More than a 24-mile section of the main east-west artery through Colorado has been closed since early Thursday, rerouting traffic between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum almost 220 miles to the north and through the Rockies.

Stacey Stegman, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said crews hoped to reopen at least one lane of traffic in each direction sometime Friday.

“We’re not feeling very positive now,” Stegman said late Friday morning. “It’s going to be quite some time still.”

About 20 people working for CDOT and private contractors finished clearing the rocks from the original slide, but were blasting loose rocks from the sides of the mountain, Stegman said. The crews hoped to prevent more rock from falling after the Interstate reopens.

She did not know how many more boulders had fallen or how big they were.

Light snow that fell sporadically through the morning was hindering efforts, while the wet ground could cause more loose rock, Stegman said.

Geologists and engineers were working alongside the crews, trying to figure out what caused the slide. “This is the worst I’ve seen in my eight years,” Stegman said.

The slide left holes in the decks of two bridges, damaged guardrails and knocked out two wall panels along westbound lanes of the elevated mountain corridor.

Diann Allen of Redondo Beach, Calif., was just 30 miles from her destination when she learned she wouldn’t be traveling any farther on I-70. She’d been headed to Marble to meet her boyfriend’s three college-aged sons for the first time.

“Everything was going great until I got here,” Allen said outside a Gypsum convenience store. “I guess I’ll have leftover turkey. It tastes better anyway.”

Highway worker David Kuhn had the unenviable job of informing motorists who had not heard about the slide that they were in for a long detour if they had hopes of getting anywhere Thursday. He also had to accept ” and help travelers do the same ” the uncertainty of when the road might reopen.

“It could be 10 hours,” Kuhn said. “It could be two days.”

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