SILVERTHORNE, Colo. (CBS4) – A stretch of Interstate 70 in Colorado’s mountains that includes the Eisenhower Tunnel was closed until Tuesday evening due to extensive avalanche work. The closure was from the Summit County side of the tunnel to Herman Gulch east of Loveland ski area in Clear Creek County.
A video from driver Travis Gilbertson shows why:
The Colorado Department of Transportation shut down I-70 at 8:46 a.m. Tuesday. Shortly afterwards, crews used cannons to set off an avalanche on Mount Bethel near Herman Gulch. The snow slide that resulted sent 15 feet of snow over I-70’s westbound lanes and 8 feet of snow across the eastbound lanes. CDOT said it was the largest avalanche in that slide path in over 30 years.
At around 5 p.m., CDOT said one lane going east was reopened, and lanes going west were opened at around 6 p.m.
A CDOT camera showed a crew using heavy equipment to clear the huge wall of snow off the roadway.
Copter4 also captured images of the cleanup work next to Mount Bethel.
“There was some debris that came down. A cable guardrail was also damaged,” said CDOT spokeswoman Tracy Trulove. “Our team is clearing trees, rocks and dirt.”
Avalanche mitigation work that led to other highway closings also took place on Interstate 70 between Copper Mountain and Frisco as well as Highway 40 over Berthoud Pass.
“Our team is pretty darn busy today,” said Trulove.
Operations at Loveland ski area are ongoing but skiers will be unable to leave the resort until the work is complete, unless there’s an emergency. That’s because Loveland Pass was also closed.
Higher elevation areas in Summit and Clear Creek counties have received more than 2 feet of snow in the past four days.
Further west on the interstate on Sunday, heavy Colorado snowfall led to a dangerous situation for drivers. Several avalanches sent snow crashing out onto the highway near Copper Mountain. Some people had to dig their cars out, but no one was hurt.