I-70 Exit 205 turn lanes extended back to normal, but some lane closures will remain

Exit 205 is pictured in April, 2022. The Colorado Department of Transportation will stop construction work during Fourth of July weekend, but traffic impacts form 24/7 lane closures will remain.
Tripp Fay/For the Summit Daily News

As tourists and visitors are expected to flock to Summit County for Fourth of July festivities, the Colorado Department of Transportation will stop road work to minimize any impacts on traffic. 

Construction crews worked Tuesday night to repaint the left turn lanes under Interstate 70 at the Exit 205 interchange. Since construction season began, the lanes for turning left onto I-70 in both directions were shortened, and lane shifts were created to move vehicles around work under the bridge. 

Elise Thatcher, communications director for the northwest region of CDOT, said this should ease some of the congestion that has happened during construction. 

“That wraps up a lot of the work,” Thatcher said.

As for Fourth of July traffic, some portions of lane closures will have to remain because they support structure replacement, such as closures for the auxiliary lane project. Other than that, there will be no construction work to impact holiday travel.  

“No construction is allowed or taking place from noon on Friday through Monday night,” Thatcher added. “There are going to be some locations where there’s 24/7 lane closure like the westbound between the (Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels) and further west of there toward Silverthorne. That’s because that’s in place for the structure replacement. Any kind of lane closures for temporary lane closures that are in place, with cones and whatnot, will be picked up.”

Fourth of July weekends consistently rank high among some of the busiest weeks for summer travel. According to data from CDOT, it tops out as the second-highest total count in a 24-hour period. On July 1, 2017, 53,469 vehicles passed through the tunnels. 

For the top 10 highest hourly counts on the eastbound lanes, the date July 5 accounts for six of those records — in 1999, 1992, 2010, 1998 and two hours in 2009. 

This week, CDOT had two preemptive closures of Glenwood Canyon because of flash flood warnings. The first came on Monday, which lasted about an hour and a half, and then a second closure on Wednesday lasted for just over six hours. During closures east and westbound lanes are closed between Glenwood Springs (Exit 116) and Dotsero (Exit 133). 

“(Monday’s closure) came and went pretty quick,” Thatcher said. “We knew that the weather was moving quickly because the National Weather Service has been really terrific about keeping us very regularly updated more than once a day. So we knew that things were moving quickly, and we were able to mobilize really quickly for that warning. But it did move quickly.”

When Glenwood Canyon closes, traffic is redirected through Silverthorne, at Exit 205. Last year, traffic during the long-term closure congested much of the town, including in residential areas. Warnings from CDOT now include warnings of construction work delays in addition to increased traffic from canyon closures.

“Motorists using the northern alternate route should anticipate heavy traffic at the Silverthorne interchange (Exit 205) due to construction in the area,” the warning reads. “For eastbound I-70 motorists, a traffic control point is in place at eastbound West Rifle (Exit 87) to guide motorists to the northern alternate route.”

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