The Colorado Department of Transportation announced Wednesday, July 16, it began construction on the eastbound Interstate 70 Peak Period Shoulder Lane project.
The purpose of the project is to create a temporary eastbound express lane between Empire Junction and the western terminus of the Twin Tunnels near Idaho Springs in an effort to ease traffic congestion during peak travel times. Major construction activity will begin this week and completion is scheduled for fall 2015.
The 13-mile stretch is considered the most heavily congested in the I-70 mountain corridor, according to CDOT’s website. In 2010, it was not uncommon for motorists traveling on Sundays during peak hours to experience speeds averaging less than 20 miles per hour.
The upgrades include a widening of the shoulder that, during peak travel periods, will operate as a third travel lane. The express lane will be tolled and feature dynamic pricing, which means the price will fluctuate in the tolled lane depending on traffic volume, according to a CDOT news release.
Prices will be lower when the lane is being underutilized during peak times. However, as congestion increases, so too will the price of the toll, the release stated.
CDOT officials estimate the shoulder express lane will reduce travel time from the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnel to the top of Floyd Hill by as much as 48 percent, the release stated.
“The 13-mile I-70 Eastbound Peak Period Shoulder Lane Project is an innovative approach to maximizing use of our existing highway infrastructure when it is needed most,” said CDOT project manager Benjamin Acimovic in the release. “By using the shoulder instead of adding a full lane, we are striving to balance the needs of the traveling public with those of the natural environment and local communities adjacent to the highway.”
Mountain Corridor Constructors, a partnership led by URS Corp. and supported by Lawrence Construction Co., is leading the construction efforts. The first phase of shoulder improvements is scheduled to begin at U.S. 40 in Empire. From there work will move eastward to Idaho Springs. The Colorado Highway 103 bridge over I-70 also will be replaced and Exit 241 on the east side of Idaho Springs will be reconfigured, the release stated.
For information about the Peak Period Shoulder Lane or to leave a message, call the project information line at (303) 223-6581 or visit www.i70ppsl.com.
For information regarding CDOT projects statewide, log on to www.cotrip.org, download the CDOT Mobile app or call 511 from anywhere in Colorado.