A week before the start of a major construction project to widen Interstate 70 to three lanes at the Twin Tunnels, crews will again be closing lanes and stopping traffic in the area this week for preparation work.
Drivers should anticipate stops and slow downs today through Saturday morning at the shorter tunnel facility just east of Idaho Springs, according to statements from the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Eastbound lanes will be closed overnight between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. all week, and traffic will be routed through the westbound tunnel with one lane in each direction.
The speed limit will be reduced to 35 mph while lanes are closed.
There will also be regular 20-minute traffic stops on the eastbound lanes throughout the day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to allow for rockscaling - the removal of rocks from above the highway. The stops will occur once hourly.
Prep blasting at the Twin Tunnels continues roughly every three days this week in preparation for the expansion of the eastbound tunnel bore to accommodate a third lane. Blasting also causes traffic stops in both directions, but the dates and times of the blasts are not available until the day before or the day of the operations.
Blasting generally requires full traffic stops in both directions lasting several minutes.
Drivers can expect nighttime delays of up to 30 minutes at the Eisenhower Tunnel as well with single-lane closures implemented periodically for routine maintenance this week. The delays will be confined to the westbound side of the highway.
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.
CDOT officials say they're actively pushing information to drivers through multiple platforms to help minimize the impacts of the closure.
"We recognize that it's one of the first (projects) out there on I-70 and it has to go well," project communication manager Amy Ford said.
Daily blasting schedules are provided on the Twin Tunnels project hotline at (303) 327-4034.
Regular alerts and updates on the work are available via email and social media. To sign up to receive information visit www.coloradodot.info and click on the cell-phone icon in the upper right corner of the page. The icon links to a subscription page under the I-70 West, Denver to Glenwood Springs option.