Contingency fund will pay I-70 rockslide repair bill

It’s too soon to tell how much it will cost to repair damage done to Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon because of a rockslide or how long it will take to fix it, Colorado Department of Transportation officials said Wednesday.

But rest assured, despite the state’s revenue problems, CDOT will find the money needed to repair it, spokeswoman Mindy Crane said.

“We do not have an estimate yet, but we’re working on the design for the emergency repairs,” Crane said. “I can say, however, that in a similar incident in 2004, we had a rockslide almost in the exact same spot. That cost $1.2 million to repair, and it was similar rock sizes and similar repairs.”

With an increase in construction costs since then, Crane estimates it could be as much as $1 million more.

Crane said it took two months to make repairs after the 2004 slide.

Money to do the repairs will come out of a contingency fund the department maintains to handle emergencies just like this one, she said.

Hours after the slide occurred early Monday, closing a 17-mile section of the highway, Gov. Bill Ritter declared the roadway a disaster area. His executive order will clear the way for the state to get federal dollars to help pay for repairs, but Crane said it’s unclear how much that might be.

“This is a bridge deck, which is more expensive, but this would be to completely repair it,” she said.

The start of repair work depends on how long it will take to clear the interstate of rubble, and crews Wednesday still were working to knock down loose rock from the canyon walls, Crane said.

Once the work does start, and if the department is able to open at least one lane in both directions, Crane warns motorists that traffic delays could be up to an hour through the canyon.

Still, she said, that’s a little better than having to take a 200-mile detour north through Craig to reach U.S. Highway 40 or going south on U.S. Highway 50 toward the Front Range, which can take up to eight hours.


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