The July 29 mudslides stranded more than 100 people in their vehicles overnight and caused extensive damage that closed Interstate 70.
Glenwood Canyon, a 12.5-mi. canyon in western Colorado, was closed on July 29 due to a severe mudslide in the Grizzly Creek burn scar area. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) highway maintenance personnel have been working to secure the roadway and protect life safety, but the combination of the fires from last summer and the extreme rain resulted in substantial damage to the roadway, necessitating a longer-term closure of the Interstate.
CDOT is still assessing significant damage to both the lower and upper decks of I-70 in sections near the Hanging Lake Tunnel, Executive Director Shoshana Lew said during a news conference with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. Large rocks and other debris fell down the canyon in recent days and parts of the eastbound lanes remain underwater, she said.
Glenwood Canyon typically receives an average 2.4 in. of rain in July. Over the course of five days, more than 4 in. of precipitation fell on the burn scar area.
Due to the extreme nature of this event, CDOT officials have formed the Glenwood Canyon Incident Command (IC). CDOT formed an IC to handle the devastation of the 2013 floods and the 2018 Cyber Incident, and the IC structures served to focus the department and a small team of individuals on recovering from the incidents as quickly as possible.
Gov. Polis has set a key objective for an Incident Action Plan (IAP): Complete emergency repairs so that all lanes of traffic are open through Glenwood Canyon before ski season begins.
To accomplish this challenging objective, it will take a focused team dedicated to the task at hand, and the kind of coordination and cadence of mission that only an ICS can provide.
Region 3's Mike Goolsby, who has been managing the incident up to this point, will temporarily leave his post to assume the role of Incident Commander until further notice. He will continue to serve as a member of the CDOT EMT in that capacity. Goolsby will make sure the IC is seamlessly integrated with CDOT's executive management team (EMT) structure to ensure all of the organization's resources are being leveraged so that crews are continuing to work as one team.
Deputy Chief Engineer Keith Stefanik will serve as part of the IC as deputy incident commander and will report to CDOT Chief Engineer Steve Harelson, who will continue to oversee all of the engineering and structural analysis being conducted through the IC.
Division of Maintenance and Operations Director John Lorme will continue to manage movement of resources throughout CDOT to ensure that the response has sufficient resources from the maintenance side.
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