Glenwood Canyon will be closed again this Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., forcing many motorists to seek alternate routes.
The last time this busy section of I-70 was closed for the Glenwood Canyon Emergency Rockfall Mitigation project, cars and trucks sought out other routes on mountain passes. But many of the vehicles were too large.
Tracy Trulove is communications manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). She said these routes are meant for smaller vehicles.
“...when we suggest Independence Pass as an alternate route, that is for passenger vehicles,” Trulove said. “Any vehicle over 35 feet is always prohibited on that highway. Truckers will often just look at their GPS and the GPS doesn’t go as far to mention when we have certain restrictions on roads.”
The Pitkin County Sheriff's office had to turn around 20 oversized trucks during last month’s canyon closure. Cottonwood Pass in Eagle County, which is specifically discouraged as an alternate route by CDOT, had a large traffic jam when an oversized semi-truck jack-knifed while trying to turn around and blocked the whole road.
This time around, Eagle County plans to hire a traffic control company that will stage flaggers on both sides of the pass to notify drivers. They will restrict semis from using the pass, as well as any cars that have a trailer attached. Garfield County also plans to have a larger presence than normal around the west side of the pass. Pitkin County will continue with the same enforcement as last time, which involves deputies at the winter closure gate on Independence Pass.
These extra two days of closures were scheduled after CDOT could not complete helicopter operations because of wind drafts and other challenges. CDOT does not anticipate any more full closures in relation to this project. Construction is scheduled to be complete at the beginning of September.
For drivers who plan to wait out the delays on I-70, CDOT encourages them to enjoy the mountains towns off of the highway and not rush to get back on right at 3:30 p.m. as that will increase delays.