GEORGETOWN, Colo. (CBS4) – A planned closure of Interstate 70 in Colorado’s high country Tuesday has been completed and the highway is now back open.
All lanes of the highway were closed between Silverthorne and Empire for a major rock removal effort. The rocks were in a dangerous position above the highway.
“CDOT was able to remove all of the rocks and boulders that were considered an immediate threat to come loose and down slope to Interstate 70. However, a number of large boulders remain on the slope and warrant further examination in the future,” Stacey Stegman with CDOT said in statement released just after 4:30 p.m.
Stegman said engineers will be exploring an anchor system to further stabilize the remaining boulders.
“CDOT then will design this anchor system in the next couple of weeks. If, however, a solid section of slope is not available at this site for anchoring, another lengthy closure of I-70 may be necessary in the near future to bring down these remaining boulders,” Stegman said.
Stegman wrote that part of the reason the project progressed well is that none of the rocks that were dislodged had hit or damaged the road.
“In addition, a lower rockfall net needs to be installed as a rock damaged the existing one. That work will take place over the next couple of weeks, requiring additional lane closure and traffic stops,” Stegman said.
Last night Georgetown’s police chief walked through the mountain town and warned them about the work that will be done. One homeowner, Webdek Pugh, told CBS4 he knows the work is needed.
“I watched a boulder coming down one of these hills … it bounces like a ball,” said Pugh, who is one of several residents who are actually being asked to evacuate from their homes because of their close proximity to the project.
“Guess what? Gravity rules. Sooner or later these guys are coming down.”
With advance knowledge about the major road closure, some ski areas put together specials to let people know they are still open for business. Lodging deals were made available at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone.
Keystone also extended its ski hours until 5 p.m., the same time the project was scheduled to be completed for the day.
CDOT said on Wednesday the highway will remain open, but traffic stops up to 20 minutes from 10:30 a.m. until dark can be expected as remaining clean-up work takes place.
“For text and/or e-mail alerts about the project, and while work is underway, please visit www.coloradodot.info and click on the cell-phone icon in the upper right-hand corner. A link takes you to a list of items you can subscribe to, including I-70 West, Denver to Glenwood Springs. Updates also will be available by calling 511 or checking the Web site: www.coloradodot.info.”