Summit County braces for summer of construction
Ryan Summerlin March 15, 2013
Along with summer visitors, the spring snowmelt will bring an influx of construction crews to the High Country this year as several major projects get under way.
Highway 9 south of Farmer’s Korner, Park Avenue in Breckenridge, Interstate 70 east of Idaho Springs and U.S. 285 through Park County are all up for extensive improvement projects during the upcoming construction season, most of them involving expansion to increase traffic capacity.
“It’s fantastic to get all that stuff done,” Summit County assistant manager Thad Noll said. “That’s the upside. The downside is that all that stuff is getting done and that means a lot of traffic impacts.”
The biggest project, a $106 million widening of I-70 at the Twin Tunnels east of Idaho Springs will close the eastbound highway lanes from April through November. A 35 mph detour around the closure will be in place and will likely be the fastest option for commuters from the mountains to the Front Range, as the alternative route – from Breckenridge through Alma and down U.S. 285 to Denver – will also be thick with orange cones and lane closures.
On Highway 9 between Summit High School and Breckenridge, crews will be widening the road to two lanes in each direction, implementing one of the last steps toward fulfilling a long-cherished dream of a four-lane highway between Frisco and Breck.
The project will include a roundabout installation at the intersection of Fairview Boulevard and Highway 9 as well as an expansion between Agape Outpost Church and Tiger Road. The roundabout will be constructed in 2014.
Within the town of Breckenridge, work will begin on an additional roundabout at Park Avenue and Four O’clock Road that officials say will provide a safer and better-looking intersection. Relocation of utilities will begin this summer with actual construction set to begin in the summer of 2014.
Local officials say measures are being taken to reduce the inconvenience for drivers.
“When we first started looking at all these projects, it was staggering,” Noll said. “However, with phasing of the work and good traffic control plans we believe the impacts will be a lot less.”
Transportation officials have promised one lane will be open in both directions at all times on Highway 9 and work will stop on Friday afternoons and be discontinued through the weekends. Traffic will not be stopped on I-70 on Sunday, a busy day on the corridor, and two lanes will always be open to traffic during peak travel times.
Transportation officials are also pushing constant information on multiple platforms, including a phone hotline, website, smartphone application, social media and regional radio stations, to ensure drivers have advance warning of the construction work and can plan to avoid the worst delays.
On U.S. 285, where crews will be repaving and adding passing lanes, work will not be done at night or on the weekends.