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Flood-Damaged Section of Colorado Road Is Reopened

June 05, 2003|From Associated Press

VAIL, Colo. — A portion of Colorado's main east-west interstate reopened Wednesday as crews continued to repair water-saturated pavement around a sinkhole that shut down the mountain stretch a few days ago.

The eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 were open to traffic in two directions, while the westbound lanes remained closed.

The highway typically carries 30,000 vehicles a day in June. Commercial truckers were advised to go through other states, and tourists going to mountain resorts were directed to a 54-mile detour through Leadville.

The 24-mile stretch of the road was initially closed Sunday when floodwaters washed out a culvert and opened a 22-foot-wide sinkhole in westbound lanes. Melting snow and rain had flooded nearby creeks.

Eastbound lanes reopened with a lane of traffic in each direction just after 3 a.m. Wednesday, but the road sank several inches.

"It's still very, very wet in the ground, and the runoff in the creek is just not giving us a break, so we haven't been able to get rid of all the water and allow it to dry out," said Stacey Stegman, a transportation department spokeswoman.

She said engineers tested the soils to determine the eastbound side was OK to reopen. Since Saturday, two people have been reported drowned and a third missing in accidents on Colorado's swollen rivers.

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