UPDATE: Traffic Moving Again Through Glenwood Canyon For First Time This Month After I-70 Closure Due To Mudslides

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Gov. Jared Polis said Monday it could take weeks to repair damage on Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon caused by mud and debris slides from heavy rain. The northern detour recommended by the Colorado Department of Transportation will take you the better part of five hours.

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Heading west from Denver, the detour takes you to Silverthorne, through Steamboat onto Craig, then to Rifle and finally to Glenwood Springs.

While the drive is long, made longer by semi traffic, the towns along the way are seeing a major economic benefit.

“The impact seems to be greater especially with the I-70 detour, a lot of trucks and a lot more traffic,” said Gary Suiter, the City Manager for Steamboat Springs.

Suiter says while it’s hard to distinguish normal summer crowds from those along for the detour, there was a noticeable bump in July through town when closures in Glenwood Canyon first began.

“The I-70 closures started in July, and as a matter of fact around July 4, we had to relocate the fourth of July parade,” he recalled.

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The increase in traffic has caused a headache for local traffic, but for businesses it’s been worth it. Many are spending the night and filling up hotels. Restaurants are also busy.

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“We’re definitely getting detours over here. They’re finding us because we’re like at the top of Yelp and Trip Advisor, so they’re always driving through like ‘what’s the best place for breakfast?’” said Kelly Meuse, the Manager of Steamboat’s Creekside Cafe.

Like other mountain towns, Muse said they’re struggling with a smaller-than-normal staff, but she’s still excited to have the bump in business from the detour.

“I mean it’s good to have people back in restaurants again,” said Meuse. “We get a lot of like, ‘where do we go next? What do we do next on the detour?’ so it’s been a lot of fun.”

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Sales tax revenue for the month of June was up more than 40% compared to the same time last year. July’s numbers will be out by the end of the month, and especially with the detour in place, Suiter expects it to be big for businesses in the area.

“I expect we’ll have a blockbuster July, not only because there are a lot of activities here and it’s just a fun town, but the I-70 detours have definitely helped us out,” he said.

Find more information on recommended routes around Glenwood Canyon.

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CDOT is recommending all commercial traffic use Interstate 80 as a detour to and from Denver to help with congestion.

Jamie Leary