It seems like a daily routine now.
Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon closes because of rain that causes mudslides. Then it reopens only to close a day or mere hours later.
The uncertainty has impacted Grand Valley businesses that rely on that path being clear to varying degrees.
“It has impacted us quite a bit,” said Brian Oliver, owner of The Rockslide Brewery and Dream Cafe. “This is the peak tourist time, and most of our visitors tend to come from the Denver Metro Area. And the days that I-70 is closed, you can tell business is much slower.”
The mudslides are happening where the Grizzly Creek Fire burned last year. Rain carries that exposed dirt and debris down the mountains. A 2017 study from the U.S. Global Change Research Program found that erratic and intense weather such as mudslides and fires can be byproducts of climate change.
Oliver said he gets his food from Utah, so he hasn’t faced shortages on that front. Brandon Cramer, general manager of Goat and Clover Tavern, at 336 Main St., No. 104, said he hasn’t seen much of a change to business.
Andy’s Liquor, 922 N. First St. No. 2240, has seen a slight hit to business.
“Ninety percent of our deliveries come from Denver and, if we do miss a delivery, it’s a day or two late. But that’s not a big deal for us,” said manager Bill Hepworth.
Surprisingly, Hepworth said this time of year is Andy’s off-season. Many people are out and about, and a big demographic — college students — aren’t in town, so they’re not being hit at their busiest time.
Food and drink aren’t the only areas to see some effects.
Rick Christensen, owner of the Mesa Theater, 538 Main St., lost a day of ticket sales to the closures.
On July 21, the deathcore band Carnifex was headlining at the Mesa Theater with Uncured, Drift Away Dreamer, and Under Auburn Skies opening. Carnifex is a popular group in the scene but was traveling from Colorado Springs. The I-70 closure forced them to cancel.
“We ended up doing the show for free, and we paid the opening bands despite not making any money that night,” Christensen said. “That was tough for us.”
That’s been the only instance of an act cancelling because of the closures, he said.
The intermittent closures of I-70 are far from the biggest concern some local businesses have.
Hepworth said that the issues Andy’s Liquor and other liquor stores face are big retailers like Sam’s Club selling wine and liquor, which could divert customers who are looking for convenience. The nearby road construction has also made Andy’s difficult to reach, Hepworth said.
Oliver may get his food from Utah, but he gets his plates from Denver and unless he wants to switch up the style of china — which he doesn’t — he’s more or less out of luck.
But that’s not all related to I-70 closures.
“I may not get another shipment until November because there’s a truck driver shortage. People seem to be getting paid more to sit at home,” Oliver said. “And because of that, we’re also short-staffed. We have people working 70 hours a week just to pick up the slack and keep up our quality and customer service. Those are the big issues for us right now.”