Latest update on support to Glenwood Canyon by state agencies

Colorado Unified Coordination Group

DENVER, Aug. 9, 2021: A Colorado Unified Coordination Group established on July 30, 2021, with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP)  and the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) supports the response efforts for the Glenwood Canyon incident.  The Colorado State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is activated at Level Three operations. Three lines of effort are underway:

  • Clear the debris from I-70, repair necessary infrastructure and reopen the highway led by CDOT. 
  • Clear or mitigate debris in the waterways that threaten critical infrastructure led by DHSEM and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
  • Ensure the safety of drivers and communities along alternate routes led by CSP.

A disaster declaration authorizing the use of the Colorado National Guard for traffic control and debris removal was signed by the Governor on Friday. Additionally, the declaration activates the State’s Emergency Operations Plan and enables State agencies to better coordinate their response while also providing additional funds to respond to the damage and repairs needed in areas affected by burn scar flooding and slides.  Governor Polis requested $116 million in funding from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Emergency Relief program on August 8. 

CDOT formed an Incident Command (IC) to handle Glenwood Canyon response and recovery efforts. The IC structures serve to focus the department and a team of individuals on recovering from the incidents as quickly as possible.  The primary objective for CDOT is to complete emergency repairs so that all lanes of traffic are open through Glenwood Canyon before ski season begins.

CDOT crews have cleared more than 1,440 truckloads of debris from the I-70 roadway in Glenwood Canyon during the current safety closure, including 440 loads over this past weekend. By weight, up to 26 million pounds of material have been removed between Friday, July 30 and Sunday, August 8. 189 maintenance employees from around the state are assisting with closure management and clean-up efforts. There have been 14,900 man-hours completed by maintenance staff. CDOT and maintenance leadership have also been hard at work responding to this incident, as well as engineering and other CDOT teams. 

CDOT teams will continue to determine the impact to the roadway and use that information to secure Federal Highway funds for repairs to open the roadway.

The CSP is responsible for traffic management and the safety of the traveling public.  The CSP coordinates resources from the Colorado National Guard to staff traffic control points on secondary roadways with high traffic volume. The Patrol has scheduled increased staffing for a two-week period following the start of this closure. This includes an additional 22 trooper shifts focused on alternative routes.  

The CSP is requesting that motorists do not use 911 for closure or route information. This information can be found by visiting www.COtrip.org. If motorists are concerned about an aggressive driver, they are encouraged to call *CSP, please do not call 911.

Colorado SEOC and DHSEM leadership met with the FEMA Region 8 administrator on August 2 to request a joint damage assessment as the first step in requesting federal funding through FEMA.  The data from the damage assessments is required as part of the formal disaster declaration request process to show the impact on the State of Colorado and the counties involved in the Glenwood Canyon incident.  The SEOC is also coordinating with the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the United States Forest Service for debris management and recovery in the Colorado River.

The State Recovery Task Force is activated to support short and long-term recovery efforts, including securing funding to assist with the recovery from sources such as the FHWA Emergency Relief Program, U.S. Small Business Administration, Natural Resources Conservation Services, Federal Emergency Management Agency.  

The SEOC is coordinating all resource requests for the response and recovery. The current focus is on securing traffic management resources for CDOT and CSP to ensure the safety of the traveling public on the alternative routes.  The second focus is supporting the agricultural impacts. 

DHSEM regional field managers and the State Recovery Task Force led 12 state and federal agencies through the Glenwood Canyon to begin damage assessments of the river and water supply.  The damage assessment teams include the National Weather Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, DNR, U.S. Geological Survey, CDOT, CDPS, Colorado School of Mines, Colorado River Conservation District, Colorado Avalanche Information Center, U.S. Forest Service. The results of the initial assessment will quantify the damages in order to request recovery funds and create a debris management plan.  

As part of the State Recovery Task Force, an Agriculture Recovery Assessment Team conducted an initial meeting Friday to address safety concerns related to transporting animals and non-refrigerated perishable commodities along the longer alternative route. 

The Colorado Business Emergency Operations Center (BEOC) is activated and surveying the private sector to determine operational and economic impacts.  These coordination efforts have occurred with businesses through meetings with the chamber of commerce in both Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction.  The BEOC is coordinating with Suncor and Colorado Energy Office (COE) to monitor the impacts of operations and verify the current fuel supply status across the state.  An economic impact report for western slope producers is expected by August 11.   The Colorado BEOC is coordinating the response to future closure incidents through a fuel and rail working group that includes DHSEM, COE, Suncor and rail partners.  Additionally,  the Colorado BEOC is working with the Agriculture Recovery Assessment Team to identify economic impacts to producers due to the I-70 closure.

Latest update on support to Glenwood Canyon by state agencies