GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– The westbound side of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon will finally reopen to drivers beginning Friday. It’s another step forward for the area following a long stretch of setbacks.

(credit: CBS)

“We are well overdue for a bit of good news in this canyon,” said Shoshana Lew, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Lew joined other officials Wednesday for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Grizzly Creek exit in Glenwood Canyon.

The $14 million project began in March, just as the coronavirus pandemic hit. Project engineers had to navigate supply shortages. Just as things started to get moving, the Grizzly Creek Fire started.

An image of the Grizzly Creek Fire on Aug. 14.

(credit: CDOT)

I-70 was closed for two weeks last month due to the fire.

“You know, at first I thought we were in dire straits with fires under bridges and what not,” said Joe Urnise, a Project Engineer for CDOT.

Urnise said the fire and closure knocked the project back a couple of weeks but wasn’t long before crews were back on track. The project is critical not only to ease traffic headaches but to relieve pressure on the eastbound side.

“People should care about it, because if you’re on the eastbound deck right now you can feel the road deteriorating,” he said.

The eastbound lanes will be resurfaced in the next couple of years. With the threat of rock and mudslides, the westbound side was a priority.

(credit: CBS)

The resurfacing, which stretches from the Hanging Lake exit to the No Name exit, will last decades once complete.

“The material itself is called polyester concrete,” Urnise continued, “it’s almost more durable than concrete.”

Part of the area resurfaced has already been put to the test.

“We had a couple rockfalls involved with the fire that came down and barely scratched the surface,” said Urnise.

Jamie Leary