GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – Traffic on a stretch of a key east-west highway in Colorado won’t be back to normal for weeks after a rock slide sent boulders the size of small cars crashing onto the roadway and forced travelers to take detours of up to four hours, officials said Wednesday.
Rocks tumbled onto part of Interstate 70 that runs through a deep, narrow canyon carved by the Colorado River on Monday, damaging a tractor-trailer but causing no injuries.
The slide about 125 miles east of the Utah border shut the highway for 24 miles in both directions from Glenwood Springs in the west to Gypsum in the east.
The Colorado Department of Transportation plans to reopen a single lane Thursday, but it will take several weeks to open all four lanes that carry a daily average of 300 vehicles per hour through the canyon, spokeswoman Amy Ford said.
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West- and eastbound cars will take turns traveling the single lane with help from an escort vehicle, a process likely to be in place for several days while initial repairs and rock stabilization are underway, Ford said.
Drivers are urged to consider using the detours, the shortest rerouting them about 140 miles out of their way by taking them north to U.S. 40 and then back south to I-70.
“We encourage all options,” Ford said, but added that trips could take up to two hours on the one-lane route through the canyon.