UPDATED: Hole in I-70 bridge at Floyd Hill is creating major delays for travelers heading into mountains
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A pothole that appeared on an Interstate 70 bridge at the bottom of Floyd Hill snarled westbound traffic and created a major headache for travelers heading to Steamboat Springs and other mountain resorts to ring in the new year.
But transportation officials were breathing a big sigh of relief later Friday afternoon when they learned the hole on the bridge decking was not a sign of a larger structural issue.
“It was a classic older bridge problem,” State Transportation Commissioner Kathy Connell, of Steamboat Springs, said Friday of the pothole. “We did dodge a bullet, and we are grateful for all the crews making themselves available to fix this quickly. This was a New Year’s gift.”
The Colorado Department of Transportation reported Friday morning westbound traffic was initially backed up for more than four miles after the state had to close a lane in that direction due to the hole in the bridge decking.
CDOT estimated delays could reach more than two hours and recommended drivers use U.S. Highway 6 as a detour around the closed lane.
By 2 p.m. Friday, delays were reportedly 45 minutes long in the area and expected to decrease later in the evening.
Officials from CDOT were hopeful the lane could be reopened by Friday night after the hole was patched with quick-drying concrete.
Connell said the bridge at the bottom of Floyd Hill has been a “quagmire” for the state even when it doesn’t have a hole in one of the lanes.
Transportation officials said the design of that portion of the interstate often leads to westbound traffic backups because of the sharp turn that trucks and vehicles have to make when they go down Floyd Hill and then approach a large rock wall.
Connell has even spent time wondering if an alternative route could be cut through the mountains.
“This bridge is on our list,” Connell said. “We have been concerned about it. They have done repairs and tried to patch it back. That whole area is an engineering quagmire.”
Former CDOT Executive Director Shalien Bhatt told the Denver Business Journal in May that ideas being pondered for that portion of interstate included either stacking the stretch of road similar to a part of Glenwood Canyon or realigning the highway. Both options would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 million to $500 million, Bhatt said.
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