(CBS4) – Colorado state lawmakers are warning of higher prices and shortages of some products as a result of the mudslides that closed Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon. The interstate connects the Western Slope and Front Range.
“We’re going to have food shortages. Deliveries are being slowed down in both directions,” said state Sen. Ray Scott of Grand Junction.
He sits on the legislature’s Interim Transportation Committee, which got a briefing from CDOT, the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, and Wyoming and Colorado Petroleum Marketers Association on just how bad things could get.
“It’s huge. This is very big,” Scott said.
On the Western Slope, they’re already seeing gas shortages since refineries are this side of the shutdown.
State Sen. Don Corum, who also sits on the committee, lives in Montrose and the gas stations there are running out of gas.
“I paid $3.97 a gallon for fuel in Montrose yesterday, and not all tanks had product (gas), he said.
On the Front Range, he says, look for food shortages. The closure couldn’t have come at a worse time for farmers — harvest time.
“We’re looking at situations where trucks are not wanting to come in. If you can’t get the trucks in — sweet corn, peaches, they have timeline on them.”
State Sen. Rachel Zenzinger says the whole state will feel the impact.
“Everything that goes along that highway, such as food, fuel and other goods and products are now stalled. So this is going to drive up price of food in our grocery stores and this is absolutely going to lead to shortages,” Zenzinger said.
She says trucking companies were already short on drivers. The detour, she says, means more delays, which will drive up costs further.
“What ordinarily is a one day trip between Grand Junction and Denver is now a two day trip,” she said.
CDOT has reopened Highway 50, which was under construction, to give drivers a detour to the South. Senator Corum says he and other lawmakers pushed the agency to delay the project in the first place because of the risk of mudslides in the burn scar, “The sad part is we predicted everything that was going to happen.”
Scott says CDOT is hoping to have a lane open in each direction in a couple weeks but, until it knows the extent of the damage, it won’t know how long it will take to fix it.
“Hopefully — fingers crossed — about 14 days and then we’ll start to move some traffic through there and kind of loosen things up a bit, but who knows.”
Lawmakers are urging the federal government to approve a disaster declaration which would mean money to speed repairs.