GLENWOOD, Colo. (CBS4)– Traffic will begin traveling in both directions at the same time along Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon on Thursday afternoon.

Drivers will still follow a pace car through that stretch but traffic will be traveling in both directions starting at 4 p.m. Although delays have been high in the mornings and evenings, those are expected to ease up.

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Rockfall mitigation will continue through Thursday with equipment flown in by helicopter. There will be some delays for drivers between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. seven days a week. A 10-foot width restriction remains in place at all times.

“We’re hopeful that by opening the highway to 24/7 two-way travel, we will see an easing in the congestion that has been present during the single-lane configuration,” CDOT Region 3 Transportation Director David Eller said in a statement. “It’s important travelers understand that–just like any other construction project with traffic control–there will still be delays, some possibly exceeding an hour during peak travel times. The reason we still need to control traffic with pilot cars is safety. We want to keep speeds low in this head-to-head configuration, and we need to be able to hold traffic when necessary to continue our work. When winter comes back to the canyon, we’ll also need to run snow plows without the hinderance of cones or other delineation in the middle of the road.”

Eastbound traffic is reduced to one lane at Exit 116, Glenwood Springs, all the way to Grizzly Creek rest area where the pace car picks up traffic. Westbound traffic is reduced to one lane at Exit 129, Bair Ranch, all the way to the east side of Hanging Lake Tunnel where the pace car picks up traffic.

The Grizzly Creek, Hanging Lake and Shoshone rest areas will be closed for the duration of the pace car operations. Bair Ranch and No Name rest areas will remain open. The Glenwood Canyon Bike Path remains closed as well.

Additional Information from CDOT:

ALTERNATE ROUTES/TRAFFIC IMPACTS:

Front Range motorists/Summit County/westbound motorists

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CO 9 (Silverthorne) to US 40 (Steamboat Springs) west on US 40 (Craig) south to CO 13 (Rifle)

Eagle County/westbound motorists

CO 131 at Wolcott to Steamboat Springs, west on US 40 to Craig, then south on CO 13 to Rifle and back to I-70. This is a 203-mile alternate route that will take about three hours and 50 minutes to travel. This detour adds 146 miles and about three hours to a regular trip from Wolcott to Rifle on I-70, which is 67 miles or about 45 minutes.

South alternate route

Uses US 50. Access to US 50 is available via Grand Junction for eastbound drivers and for westbound drivers by way of US 24/285 through the Salida area from the Front Range. (Please note, there is construction on US 24 over Trout Creek Pass east of Johnson Village in Chaffee County into early March; some blasting and up to 30-minute delays may be encountered.)

Cottonwood Pass in Eagle County and Independence Pass are both closed and not available as alternate routes. Frying Pan Road and Hagerman Pass are not recommended alternate routes.

BUSTANG SERVICE to and from Glenwood Springs has resumed.  Adjustments to the arrival and departure times from Glenwood Springs will be required due to the pace car operation.  The times will be posted early this week at  www.ridebustang.com.

TRAFFIC THROUGH THE CANYON:  The average daily traffic for Glenwood Canyon is around 300 vehicles per hour. Around the evening of the incident the average traffic was about 150 per hour; the volume starts to drop off significantly after 11:00 p.m. to less than 100 vehicles per hour.

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