Glenwood Canyon closure will hurt Colorado economy – The Durango Herald

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Thousands of trucks delivering goods use the corridor daily

Interstate 70 is in need of major repairs after mud and debris spreads on the freeway through Glenwood Canyon. (Courtesy Colorado Department of Transportation)

It could take weeks for Colorado Department of Transportation crews to clean up debris and make repairs on Interstate 70 after a mudslide in Glenwood Canyon closed the road and trapped 100 people in their cars. In the meantime, the wheels of commerce must maneuver around it.

Detours add hours to truckers’ routes, resulting in higher shipping costs and delivery delays.

Colorado residents aren’t the only people suffering from the indefinite closure of one of the nation’s major east-west thoroughfares, said Greg Fulton, president and CEO of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, a trade group for the state’s trucking industry.

“It has a ripple effect, not just in Colorado… but in terms of adjacent states as well as the country,” Fulton said. “It’s such a vital corridor for us in so many ways. We take it for granted that it will always be there and always open.

According to the CDOT, 4,900 trucks are traveling on I-70 past Exit 205 for Silverthorne on an average day, the exit for vehicles using the other north route.

Courtesy of Colorado Department of Transportation

Fulton’s organization advises truck drivers to completely avoid I-70 by taking Interstate 80 through Wyoming or Interstate 40 through New Mexico.

“If you are just passing through … keep the detour roads open for trucks which absolutely must be as they are,” he said.

More expensive transport

Deliveries coming directly from the Front Range can still access the West Slope on state highways, adding between two and five hours to the commute. This includes everything from fuel and building materials to everyday items to the grocery store shelves.

The extra time can make round-trip delivery in a day impossible, Fulton said. Truckers are limited to 11 hours of driving in a 13-hour period, he said, adding that “having that longer route means you will run out of driving hours.”

The aftermath of a debris flow around Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon on July 23. (Courtesy Colorado Department of Transportation)

The country’s supply chain is already struggling to meet consumer demand. Many people are eager to spend after being confined to their homes for more than a year, while a shortage of workers – including truck drivers – makes it difficult to deliver goods and services in a timely manner. At the same time, manufacturers face overseas production issues that have persisted throughout the pandemic.

Josh Nirenberg owns Bin 707 and TacoParty restaurants in Grand Junction. He said his supply chain had been broken for several months.

“We’re still able to get trucks, but we don’t know what time of day they’re going to arrive,” Nirenberg said. “In some cases, we don’t know what days of the week they’re going to arrive. “

His taco stand was out of tortillas when it was time to open Thursday, and he hasn’t had a tequila delivery for two weeks. The closure of I-70 makes the situation worse, he said.

Greg Aishman works for Denver-based Transportation Services Incorporated, a logistics company whose customers include pet food brands. Aishman coordinates the truck transport of ingredients from the farms to a processing plant in Greeley. With the closure of I-70, truckers carrying chunks of chicken and frozen salmon from California are moving 90 miles away from Wyoming. The detour adds $ 300 per load, he said. It’s a struggle to figure out how to absorb the extra cost.

“Whose fault is Glenwood Canyon shutting down?” It’s not the fault of my clients, ”Aishman said.

Depending on the length of the shutdown, those costs could potentially be passed on to pet owners, he said.

The country’s largest shipping companies are not spared. In an email, a UPS spokesperson said the company was closely monitoring the situation on I-70 and working hard to mitigate the delays.

“We are all trying to find the best way to deal with it, but there is no quick fix. I wish there were, ”said Fulton of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association. “It’s going to take a lot of coordination and help between the different parties.

To read more stories from Colorado Public Radio, visit www.cpr.org.


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