As Eisenhower Tunnel turns 50, Colorado celebrates with talk of a facelift for the crucial I-70 link |

As Eisenhower Tunnel turns 50, Colorado celebrates with talk of a facelift for the crucial I-70 link

The highest point anywhere on I-70, the westbound tunnel and its eastbound twin have provided safe passage through the mountain for millions of vehicles.

Joshua Perry
The Colorado Sun
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun
Driving 1970s cars through the Eisenhower Tunnel was part of the 50th anniversary event Wednesday, March 8, 2023.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

Thousands of vehicles travel through Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70 each day. But on Wednesday, March 8, for a brief moment, the traffic stopped to let just three pass: a 1970 Plymouth Fury police cruiser, an antique fire truck, and a MG sports car of a similar vintage.

The procession was part of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s celebration of the Eisenhower Tunnel’s 50th anniversary. 

Since the tunnel opened on March 8, 1973, millions of cars have crossed under the Continental Divide through the passage. When the ribbon was cut, the 44.3-foot-high and 47.5-foot-wide tunnel with a $110 million price tag was the most expensive highway project ever embarked on by the U.S. government. Three men died during the five years of construction. 

CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said the Eisenhower Tunnel provided a safe, accessible alternative to driving on riskier mountain passes and changed the character of the state forever.

“For the last five decades, 50 years, the Eisenhower Tunnel has served as a great connector, tying east and west together in Colorado,” she said, speaking to a small crowd at the tunnel’s eastern opening. “It has provided a critical life saving link, moving goods and services, and helped to mark Colorado as a world class mountain destination.”

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