UPDATED: Interstate-70 closed in both directions after fatal semi crash, lengthy road shutdown expected
UPDATE (3:15 p.m.): A CDOT spokeswoman said that one lane of eastbound I-70 should be re-opened within an hour or two as crews continue to repair damaged guardrails at the highway median.
The semi truck is still wedged underneath the bridge and will take more time to remove, but the spokeswoman said crews should be able to accomplish that with the left eastbound lane open.
CDOT said the bridge appears to be structurally sound, but engineers will not be able to conduct a full assessment until the truck is out of the way.
UPDATE (3 p.m.): Westbound lanes on Interstate 70 have re-opened, but eastbound lanes remain closed at Silverthorne. Detour in place for Highway 9 to Highway 285 through Breckenridge.
A semi truck traveling on westbound Interstate 70 near Empire Junction crossed over into the east lane and crashed into a bridge pillar, killing the driver and seriously injuring another passenger, according to the Colorado State Patrol.
The incident occurred at around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday but officials expect an extended closure of I-70 in both directions to clean up the scene and allow engineers with the Colorado Department of Transportation to check on the structural integrity of the bridge.
A safety closure of eastbound I-70 is currently in place at exit 205 in Silverthorne, and traffic is being diverted to Colorado Highway 9 through Park County. Colorado Highway 6 remained closed at Loveland Pass in the early afternoon.
As of 12:45, officials could offer no estimated time of re-opening given the extensive cleanup work and bridge evaluation needed before letting cars pass beneath it again.
“It is not a good looking picture there,” a CSP spokesman said.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation. No other vehicles were involved, the spokesman said, but the passenger in the truck sustained serious injuries and was rushed to a hospital on the Front Range.
A vehicular crimes unit was en route as of 1 p.m., which is standard procedure for fatal crashes but will contribute to the extended closure.
The crash occurred near mile marker 232 at the exit for Colorado Highway 40, and the semi wrapped around on of the pillars holding up the interchange bridge there.
“Until they can get in there and clear the scene and our people can go in and evaluate the damage to the structure, we can’t safely let people through there,” a CDOT spokeswoman said.
The agency is planning a press briefing at 3 p.m. to provide more information and updates.
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