Colorado Highway 9 near Breckenridge to see roadwork resume |

Colorado Highway 9 near Breckenridge to see roadwork resume

Work crews perform rock scaling operations Thursday, April 10 on Interstate 70 at the Twin Tunnels near Idaho Springs. Because boulders can bounce onto the highway, CDOT officials are periodically holding traffic for 30 minutes so workers can safely remove the rocks.
Conrad Fischer/Special to the Daily |

Locals driving between Frisco and Breckenridge may have noticed the return this week of work crews, who shut down lanes in both directions and began sweeping the roadway in anticipation of resuming construction on Colorado Highway 9.

Thad Noll, assistant Summit County manager who oversees road projects, said construction is scheduled to begin in earnest Monday, April 14 and first on the agenda is preparing the bridge at Revette Drive for a makeover.

Time also is of the essence, Noll said. To reconstruct the bridge, three 60-inch culverts — that direct the Blue River under Highway 9 — need to be removed before May 1. The deadline was set by the Army Corps. of Engineers, which wants to ensure workers do not venture into the river when flows peak during the spring runoff.

With snowpack at 130 percent of average or greater in many parts of Summit County, officials are bracing for a “pretty big runoff this year,” Noll said.

Other projects on the docket for completion this summer include construction of a roundabout at Fairview Boulevard, widening of the highway between Fairview and Tiger Road, construction of a median from The Church at Agape Outpost south to Revette Drive and a realignment of Gateway Drive to create a “T” intersection. There also are plans to move the Gold Hill Trailhead to the other side of Gateway Drive. The trail will be diverted under the new bridge.

The deadline to finish construction is Oct. 1, Noll said, but until then residents should anticipate periods of long delays.

“The travel impacts could be greater this summer than they were last summer, as we’re expecting more slow downs in the construction areas,” Noll said. “It’s going to be a pain all summer, but it’s going to payoff big when it’s all finished.”

In addition to Colorado Highway 9, there are two projects of significance occurring on Interstate 70 that could affect locals and visitors traveling between Denver and the High Country. The more notable of the two is the widening of the westbound bore at the Twin Tunnels near Idaho Springs.

Crystal Morgan, Colorado Department of Transportation communications manager for Region 1, said the first in-tunnel blast is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, April 16. Rock scaling at the tunnels began last week, which requires 30-minute traffic stoppages in both directions.

Rock scaling is scheduled to take place between 8:15 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Fridays, holidays excluded. During those days traffic will be stopped for 30 minutes and then released for 45 minutes.

CDOT officials already implemented a similar schedule last week. So far, traffic backups have not been as bad as predicted.

“We’re very excited about the success we’ve had with the 30-minute closures,” Morgan said. “We have been posting messages alerting people to expect up to one-hour delays, but we’re clearing traffic through the construction zone in about 20 minutes. We hope that’s a good sign of what to expect through the summer.”

However, Morgan said CDOT has received complaints from the public about workers standing around during traffic releases. That’s because during scaling, boulders fall off the rock face and at times bounce onto the roadway below where motorists would normally be traveling. Workers, therefore, could not perform their duties during traffic releases without creating a public safety issue, Morgan said.

The deadline to complete the widening of the westbound bore is Dec. 20, so not to adversely affect the first big tourist push of the ski season during Christmas. Aside from some minor cleanup projects, crews were able to complete construction of the eastbound bore on Dec. 12, 2013, well ahead of the holiday deadline.

The second I-70 project entails rock mitigation work from Georgetown to Silver Plume. Operations are scheduled to take place into the early part of the summer and requires one westbound lane to be closed.

However, given the dangerous nature of the work, impacts on travel will be weather dependent, Morgan said. Motorists should still anticipate the possibility of daily lane closures during the work week.

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