GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Glenwood Canyon remained closed for a second day on Friday after more debris flow was reported on Thursday evening. While the town of Glenwood Springs has grown tired of the frequent closures, compared to the near month-long closure last summer during the fire, this is something they can handle.
“These closures are definitely an impact for our community but the citizens and the city employees and CDOT have been awesome to get these roads back open in a timely manner,” said Mayor Johnathan Godes.
Godes says business is still coming in from the west and like the town, guests have learned to plan around potential weather-related disruptions.
“I think people are just trying to plan ahead a little bit more,” he said. “I gotta give a shout out to our business owners and residents who are just, I mean they’re really resilient, ya know? People are understanding, they’re online on different social media platforms helping each other out.
Businesses say the Colorado Department of Transportation has been instrumental not only when it comes to clearing the debris, but when it comes to the flow of information as well.
“This whole summer they’ve communicated so efficiently and that’s allowed us to be really flexible and agile in the sense of moving people to other rivers especially,” said Ken Murphy, owner of Glenwood Adventure Company and Lakota Guides.
Murphy has had to halt trips on the Colorado River, but feels lucky to have other options for families. It’s the same for the bike rental side of the business.
“The concept of biking the Glenwood Canyon? That’s been closed for now well over 30 days, but people are still thoroughly enjoying the ride up to Shoshone then turning around and come back, but again here’s where Glenwood is so lucky, we have the Rio Grande trail,” he said.
The debris flows have also had an impact on hiking.
“As you know we’re the company that also handles the reservations for hanging lake,” Murphy said. “So you know we get up early, we call people, we do our best to communicate and let everybody know it’s gonna be closed for a period of time or the whole day.”
Murphy’s biggest concern right now is for the overall health of the Colorado River.
“The Colorado River is so important more than just recreation… There’s a lot of entities that will be paying attention to debris flow and how this is gonna affect us in the next 24 or 48 hours or further.”
He didn’t hesitate when asked if he would be returning to rafting the river this season-
“Oh very much so. Oh yeah. I’m positive and upbeat and these guys have been remarkable,” he said referring to the work of CDOT.
August 10th is the one-year anniversary of the Grizzly Creek Fire. Murphy, along with others, have learned not only to be resilient, but also to be flexible. He knows the pandemic, wildfire and mudslides took a toll on many, but Murphy, along with the town of Glenwood, is still open for business.
“You’ve gotta learn how to be agile and flexible and move and not get stressed over it because we don’t really have control. This is out of our control you just move forward and do your best,” he said.
In a news release on Thursday afternoon, CDOT said crews were working diligently to clear the latest debris flows.
There are two major priorities for crews before CDOT can fully reopen the highway; the first is to create a safety barrier to protect the interstate wall along eastbound lanes at Mile Point 124. The Colorado River, which was blocked by debris Thursday, is flowing along the wall and recreation path due to a debris field blocking the river nearby.
Crews are also clearing a box culvert further east on I-70, at MP 129. The box culvert is full of material, preventing floodwaters from draining from east and westbound lanes. The box culvert must be cleared and drained before floodwaters can be cleared and before crews can clean east and westbound lanes.
CDOT said more rain on Friday could significantly overwhelm the box culvert and further delay reopening the interstate. For the latest information about road closures, click here.