Colorado DOT to receive emergency relief funds for I-70 Glenwood Canyon mudslides

Quick release funds will be used to reimburse CDOT for work related to reopening I-70 to traffic

August 11, 2021 / 2 minute read
I-70 Glenwood Canyon mudslides
Image: Colorado DOT

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) this week announced the immediate availability of $11.6 million in “quick release” emergency relief (ER) funds to help the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) make repairs to I-70 in Glenwood Canyon damaged by mudslides.

I-70 is a critical connection for people and freight between Western Colorado and the rest of the State, as well as for national east-west traffic. Between June 26 – July 28, I-70 was closed twelve times while a flash flood warning was sounded. Additional rainfall on July 29 caused extensive debris flows and the continued closure of I-70. Exits 116 through 133 remain closed between Glenwood Springs and Dotsero. The facility has been inundated with mud. CDOT has observed damage to the interstate deck and superstructure and to retaining walls along the Colorado River. 

“The damage to I-70 represents an immediate threat to the economy of the region and the safety of the public,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “These emergency relief funds reflect our commitment to helping Colorado respond to this emergency—and in the months and years ahead, this Department will continue working to make all our infrastructure safer and more resilient for the traveling public.” 

Quick release funds will be used to reimburse CDOT for work related to reopening I-70 to traffic—including the removal of material from I-70, stabilizing slopes, and conducting surveys and assessments of damage to structures. The funds will also go toward maintaining traffic safety along lengthy detour routes. I-70 sees average daily traffic of 17,000 vehicles, of which more than 2,200 are trucks. 

“FHWA will continue to provide coordination and technical assistance, as well as these financial resources, to Colorado so that the state can safely and expeditiously repair this important interstate relied on by communities in the region and suppliers across the country,” Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said in a statement.

FHWA’s ER program provides funding for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events. These “quick release” ER funds are an initial installment of funds toward restoring this essential transportation link. Additional funds from the Emergency Relief program may be available later to continue repairs to I-70. 

Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) requested $116 million in aid through the FHWA’s ER program, with $11.6 million (10%) of the total request to be issued in an expedited process. 

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SOURCE: Federal Highway Administration

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