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I-70 reopens between Georgetown and Vail Pass after 9 hours of avalanche work

I-70 between Georgetown and Vail Pass was closed for hours, but reopened in both directions just before 6 p.m. Crews were performing avalanche mitigation work and snow covered the roadway.

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — Interstate 70 reopened in both directions about 9 hours after the highway closed between Georgetown and Vail Pass on Tuesday. Several feet of snow covered all lanes of traffic during avalanche reduction work.

Eight feet of snow covered the eastbound lanes and 15 feet of snow covered the westbound lanes near Georgetown around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. Debris carried down the mountain also damaged cable barriers in the median.

Since crews were doing mitigation work, traffic was being held before the slide was triggered and no vehicles were involved. 

Travelers who were stuck on the highway as a result of the slide were turned around at the Empire Junction to get them off the roadway.

On its website, CDOT initially estimated that the highway would open at 3 or 4 p.m. However, it wasn't until about 5 p.m. that one lane of eastbound traffic was reopened. By 6:30 p.m., two lanes of traffic in each direction had reopened. CDOT says to expect continued delays in the area throughout the night. 

On Sunday, two natural avalanches reached I-70 while the highway was open in the Officer's Gulch area between Copper Mountain and Frisco. The second of those buried the road, sweeping drivers into the median. 

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With the roadway closed, CDOT did additional mitigation work. SKY9 was over the area to catch one of CDOT's triggered slides Tuesday afternoon.

Mitigation operations were also happening on Berthoud pass on Tuesday after another avalanche was triggered in that area, CDOT said.  

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