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Impact on Mesa County from I-70 closure

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 7:20 PM MDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2021 at 7:21 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - The I-70 closure is putting Mesa County in a bit of an isolation. But how are these closures affecting Mesa County, including small businesses getting their supplies, tourism, and deliveries?

Small businesses as well as residential customers are inconvenienced as a result of these delayed deliveries. Plus with this being prime tourism season and motorists not being able to easily get here from the east, the Western Colorado economy is taking a toll as well.

“Our poor small business community, they have had to deal with so many issues outside their control for the past 2 years,” said Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Diane Schwenke. “So this is just 1 more on top of everything else that they’ve had to experience. I think they should all be applauded for the fact that they’re so resilient & that they’ve been able to react to these circumstances.”

A lot of Mesa County’s restaurants get their food supplies from Salt Lake, so their shipments have not been impacted. Just the sporadic delays from the businesses who do rely on the I-70 Denver route.

“The small businesses here are just starting to see the impacts in terms of delayed deliveries and as we all know, the supply chain has been so disrupted,” said Schwenke.

But it’s not just small businesses and residential customers who are seeing this impact in delayed deliveries. The tourism industry has also taken an impact.

“They may be delaying their trips or they may be looking to go somewhere else that’s more accessible,” said Schwenke. “So we’re seeing impacts as far as supplies for small businesses and also in terms of our visitor and tourism market as well.”

We received the following statement from James Boxrud of the United States Postal Service in Denver regarding mail and parcel delays.

“With the temporary closure of Glenwood Canyon due to the mud slide, our transportation from Denver to Grand Junction is experiencing some delays. To keep current with the mail we are running extra trips throughout the day to our Western Slope Offices. Our employees are working diligently to process and deliver the mail as it arrives to include sending carriers out on additional mail/parcel runs in the afternoon and early evening.”

There are alternate routes, so we’re not completely isolated. Its just taking a lot longer to receive food, supplies and goods from Denver. The severity is dependent on how long these routes are closed.

This closure creates an increased volume of traffic on the other highways throughout the state, so CDOT urges travelers to drive with care and be patient. In response to the I-70 closure, CDOT has temporarily opened up southbound Hwy 50 as an alternate route this week.

“With the closure of I-70, we’re hoping to relieve some pressure on other state routes by halting construction on US 50 Little Blue Creek Canyon project site,” said CDOT Southwest Regional Communications Manager Lisa Schwantes.

CDOT urges motorists who are travelling the Denver to Grand Junction route to travel instead via US 40 to the north & Steamboat Springs as well as Hwy 50 to the south this week since that construction has been halted. CDOT is also in communication with surrounding states to recommend through traffic to instead stay on I-80 to the north or south on I-40 New Mexico instead of I-70.

CDOT has also halted a bridge construction project on US 285 near Fairplay in response to the closure. They say maintenance crews are diligently continuing to clear the debris on the interstate & in the canyon.

As far as a long term solution and an action going forward, the grand junction chamber of commerce feels we need to create additional alternate routes and more options to get to and from our state capitol.

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