Drivers should again expect delays and traffic stops on Interstate 70 east of Idaho Springs this week, as preparatory construction work continues at the Twin Tunnels ahead of a summer-long highway-widening project.
Colorado Department of Transportation crews are planning day and night lane closure for rock scaling and concrete wall construction, and traffic stops to allow for preparatory blasting are expected every three days.
Lane closures are set ahead of time, but blasting schedules are generally not available until the day prior or the day of the operation.
Blasting generally requires full traffic stops in both directions lasting several minutes.
One eastbound lane will be closed today and Tuesday during the day, and starting Tuesday at 6 p.m. the highway will be completely closed in the eastbound direction overnight every night through Friday. Traffic will be reduced to a single lane in each direction through the westbound tunnel during the closures.
The speed limit drops to 35 mph while lanes are reduced.
Eastbound traffic will also be stopped for 20 minutes once per hour every day this week for rock scaling operations, in addition to the periodic stops for blasting.
The continuing closures and stops are in preparation for a project that will widen the eastbound bore of the Twin Tunnels, allowing the highway to be expanded to three lanes to help ease skier congestion between Denver and the mountains on peak travel days.
I-70 westbound will remain open during the roughly $106 million widening project, which is set to begin April 1 and wrap up by November. The eastbound lanes will be completely closed and cars will be rerouted over an upgraded frontage road that runs parallel to the highway during the work.
All of the work is weather dependent.
To help drivers and mountain communities prepare for the eight-month construction project on the primary artery between Denver and Summit County, CDOT is hosting an informational conference call at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
"Given the complexity of these construction operations and the critical role the I-70 mountain corridor plays in the state's transportation system, we are offering a wide variety of tools, including the telephone town hall meeting to help keep motorists informed throughout the project," CDOT I-70 west corridor manager Jim Bemelen stated in a recent release.
The one-hour call will allow the public to learn about the project from a panel of CDOT, construction and elected officials involved with it. Callers will also be able to participate in a poll using their phone keypad and ask questions of the panelists.
Though the call is open to any interested, registered voters with local phone numbers listed in Clear Creek, Grand and Summit counties will receive a call at 7 p.m. prompting them to participate in the call.
An audio file of the telephone town hall will be posted online later this month.