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An image showing damage to Interstate 70 through Glenwood Springs (CDOT)

Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon will remain closed for the foreseeable future after Colorado Department of Transportation employees surveyed damage from recent mud and rock slides and found damage “unlike anything they had seen before.”

CDOT didn’t elaborate on the damage, only calling it “extreme.”

The agency provided no timetable for when it may reopen the artery between the Front Range and the Western Slope used by thousands of motorists each day.

“CDOT crews are assessing damage and continue to clear debris and mudflow when weather conditions are safe,” CDOT said in a news release. “Motorists are recommended to use the alternative northern route as described below.  For trucks planning to travel through Colorado, CDOT recommends they take Interstate 80 through Wyoming.”

I-70 in the canyon has had intermittent closures over the past several weeks as rain caused rocks and mud loosened by a wildfire last year to cascade down into the Colorado River, covering and damaging the roadway.

On Thursday, more than 100 people had to spend the night on I-70 through the canyon, including nearly 30 who took refuge in a tunnel near the Hanging Lake exit, after a storm triggered slides. The emergency was the most dramatic weather-related incident in the canyon in years.

To detour around the latest closure, motorists are asked to travel north on U.S. 40 through Steamboat Springs, which adds several hours.

Closures of the canyon can have major economic effects for the Western Slope.

Rock slides in the canyon are an annual event, but the number of I-70 closures as of late have been an anomaly spurred by the Grizzly Creek fire last summer.

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Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....