I-70 reopens after SUV-sized boulders force day-long closure

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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Boulders the size of SUVs shut down one of Colorado's main thoroughfares for most of Tuesday, forcing drivers to go as far as 146 miles out of their way.

I-70 reopened in Glenwood Canyon late Tuesday night, a full 20 hours after the rock slide. The slide happened in the section of highway where the lanes are elevated, with the westbound lanes stacked over the eastbound ones. At least three of the boulders matched the size of a large vehicle.

"All you can do is be grateful that nobody was injured, no cars were caught in it,” said Tracy Trulove with the Colorado Department of Transportation. “We have a natural beauty in Glenwood Canyon but we also have a natural hazard that comes with it.”

Though that almost wasn't the case: Seven hours prior to the rock slide, one enormous boulder had already tumbled into the roadway. It was a shock to driver Bob Dorf, who without warning nearly collided head-on with it.

"Just right in front of me, as I came around the corner, was a rock that looked the size of a refrigerator and a smaller rock in the left-hand lane, and I swerved at the last second and managed to avoid hitting it head on,” he told 11 News sister station KCNC.

Dorf's car flipped over and went skidding down the interstate. He was buckled in and walked away from the crash with nothing more than a broken fingernail.

"I’m buying lottery tickets, by the handful!” he joked. “One split second one way or the other and I would’ve probably hit that head-on, and I may not have had the outcome that I had. I feel very, very lucky.”

Outside of Dorf's mishap, there were no reports of accidents or injuries -- unless the headaches from the major detour count. Drivers were forced to drive roughly extra hours just to get around Glenwood Canyon and back on the interstate.

During cleanup, crews hauled more than 25 dump truck loads of rock off the interstate. Work also included rock scaling operations to ensure no other rocks or boulders fell onto the interstate.

Drivers can count themselves lucky that the work just took a day -- in 2016, an even larger rock slide shut down the canyon for a week.

For road updates, click here.