Polis Administration Seeking $116 Million for I-70 Repairs and Reopening
On Monday, Aug. 9, the Polis administration announced they are seeking $116 million in federal emergency aid to rebuild I-70 after the mudslides that closed Glenwood Canyon indefinitely back in July.
Governor Polis issued two executive orders last week declaring a state of emergency disaster and seeking federal funding to help the damage caused in the canyon. The Colorado congressional delegation also issued a letter on August 7, 2021, stressing how dire the situation was to the state of Colorado.
The longer that stretch of I-70 remains closed, the worse things get for commercial traffic and everyday commuters. As Colorado's main east-west thoroughfare, the economic impact of the incident only gets worse day by day.
In the issued documents from Colorado and the Polis Administration, Governor Polis and Shoshana Lew, Director of the Department of Transportation, they stressed the severity of the damage, stating:
The ongoing vulnerability due to the severe erosion described above will likely require improvements to diversion routes such as Cottonwood Pass to be able to withstand heavier traffic in the future while providing resiliency.
So, not only do repairs need to be made to the damage in Glenwood Canyon, and that is obviously the priority, but Governor Polis is also seeking federal aid to bolster the detour routes in case of another emergency like this.
The funding request shows that debris removal costs only makeup about $4 million of the request. But, the focus on the Future Resiliency and Redundancy Study costs sit at about $50 million.
While $116 million is the total amount that's estimated to be needed, the state of Colorado is also requesting that 10% of that, $11.6 million, be expedited to start the process. The goal of opening the canyon to at least a limited capacity as soon as possible remains prevalent, and the necessity of travel through the area is at the forefront of plans.