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

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– Just one day after requesting support, the Federal Highway Administration has released $11.6 million to help repair and cleanup in the aftermath of last month’s devastating mudslides on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon. The amount is 10% of the total request.

(credit: RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

It’s all hands on deck to clean up and repair I-70 through Glenwood Canyon after fierce mudslides not only damaged the highway but literally changed the course of the Colorado River.

“We are thrilled to have such close coordination with our federal partners to ensure federal resources are quickly on their way to Colorado,” said Gov. Polis in a statement. “Crews and staff across state government are working in all-hands-on-deck mode to deal with the devastating damage to Glenwood Canyon and I-70, and having the same level of support from federal partners at the Federal Highway Administration ensures we can keep working at a rapid pace to restore this economic and recreation highway.”

(credit: RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

A 46-mile stretch of Interstate 70 has now been closed in western Colorado from Dotsero (Exit 133) to Glenwood Springs (Exit 116) for 12 straight days.

“CDOT’s maintenance teams have made great progress in recovery operations, allowing our engineers to make similar strides in developing a plan to reopen I-70,” said CDOT Director Shoshana Lew in a statement. “Thanks to the fast and strong support of our federal delegation as well as the backing of FHWA, CDOT can continue to work quickly with the assurance that resources will remain available. I want to add a special thanks to FHWA Colorado Division staff who have provided technical support throughout this incident and helped smooth the process to help deliver this quick support.”

There’s still no estimate on when the interstate will reopen through Glenwood Canyon, but the expectation is only one lane of the roadway in each direction will be open when it does.

Polis and Lew’s letter to Secretary Buttigieg and Acting Administrator Pollack and CDOT’s submissions to the FHWA Colorado Division, was sent on Monday. This follows issuance of two Executive Orders from Governor Polis last week, as well as a letter from the Colorado congressional delegation on Saturday, Aug. 7, stressing the urgency of this matter to the state.

(credit: RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The funding request breaks down several high-level categories:
• Debris removal costs (includes maintenance staff costs) = $4 million
• Impacts to existing State Highway alternate routes (as a result of I-70 closure) costs = $10 million
• Supplemental traffic control services (contractor) costs = $1 million
• Visible damage estimates caused by event damage or debris removal hauling costs = $20 million
• Assumed damage repair estimates (non-visible) costs = $20 million
• Potential geohazard mitigation at several locations = $5 million
• Construction Management and Construction Engineering costs = $5 million
• Future Resiliency & Redundancy Study costs = $50 million
• CDOT administration (non-maintenance staff) costs = $1 million

The governor also declared a state of emergency, which authorized the use of the Colorado National Guard to help manage traffic in the area.

The mudslides also temporarily halted train service on Amtrak’s California Zephyr between Denver and Grand Junction but the service was restored late last week.

Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper welcomed the initial funding from the Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Highway Administration to CDOT to begin repairs to I-70.

They released the following statement, “We’re grateful for the Department of Transportation’s swift action to address this urgent threat to Coloradans’ safety and the state’s economy. CDOT has already done tremendous work to repair the damage to Glenwood Canyon, and we appreciate the speedy support of the federal government to rebuild this critical infrastructure. We look forward to working with the state and administration to ensure that Colorado continues to get the support it needs in the months ahead.”

Jennifer McRae