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Paving work in preparation for reopening I-70 through Glenwood Canyon. Photo courtesy Colorado Department of Transportation, August 13, 2021.

Helicopter rock removals are scheduled to resume next week along Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon, resulting in periodic traffic holds.

The operation is expected to begin Tuesday and last through Thursday, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. There will not be any work done over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

“The safety-critical operation is required to remove rocks and other material from rockfall fencing above and next to I-70,” the department said in a statement.

During the operation, crews will use a helicopter to remove the rocks, as well as repair damaged fencing and rockfall prevention barriers. At least eight rockfall fences on the north slope in Glenwood Canyon need repairs, the department said.

The interstate was buried in thousands of tons of mud during mudslides in July from the Grizzly Creek burn scar, resulting in a more than two-week closure. The road has briefly closed several times since it reopened on Aug. 14 because of flash flooding.

When the helicopter is airborne, traffic will be stopped on I-70 for all eastbound and westbound lanes. The holds are expected to last 20 to 30 minutes each and take place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“The work is the next step as CDOT continues to prepare I-70, the recreation path and other infrastructure in the canyon for potential debris flows and rockfall activity in spring 2022,” the department said in a statement.

Though crews have worked continuously since the summer to repair the damage from the mudslides, there is still enough material in the canyon that spring flows and rockfall could cause more damage, the department said.

Crews are working to complete permanent emergency repairs to lanes on I-70 at Blue Gulch. One lane of westbound I-70 will remain closed Monday through Friday during working hours and one lane of eastbound I-70 will remain closed 24/7.

Work to remove the material from the Colorado River next to I-70 is expected to expand in December. That work will require additional lane closures, the department said.

Travelers are encouraged to use alternate routes to avoid the traffic impacts on I-70.

Next week's rockfall operation is weather-dependent and subject to change, the department said.