Driving east to the Front Range soon? Here’s what construction to expect on I-70.
Work at Exit 205 pushed to Thursday due to upcoming winter weather
This week marks the first portion of the large-scale Frisco-to-Silverthorne project from the Colorado Department of Transportation. That work begins under Interstate 70 at Exit 205, but there are other projects that travelers should be aware of before planning trips along the corridor during the spring and summer.
Originally slated for Monday, April 11, work under the I-70 bridge was delayed because of winter weather expected for Tuesday and Wednesday. If winter weather continues through the rest of the week, it could be delayed further. For the most part, crews will work on this area at night, but there is a possibility for day work.
Elise Thatcher, regional communications manager for the northwest region of CDOT, said the department anticipates work starting on Thursday, April 14. For the project, left-turn lanes from the exit onto I-70 will be shortened. Even though there will primarily be night work, lanes will be shortened day and night. They will be returned to their original length by July 1, Thatcher said.
“Most work above on I-70 will be next season in 2023,” Thatcher said. “I-70 lane closures will also be limited to the CDOT lane closure strategy, which is nighttime work and generally 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. for eastbound I-70. There may be some impacts to traffic just due to the crane being visible. If there ends up being some day work on eastbound I-70, there must be two lanes open.”
Exact hours for night work depends on the location, Thatcher added. On the eastbound portion, hours of work are estimated to go from 7 p.m. until 9 a.m. Specifically for the work on Exit 205, hours are expected to be from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. after traffic volume decreases when ski season ends.
“All U.S. 6 and Colorado 9 lane closures will be picked up by 6 a.m., regardless of traffic volumes, to avoid impacting morning rush-hour traffic,” Thatcher wrote in an email.
Because of other work, drivers traveling between Denver and the Western Slope are going to see several of the department’s projects on the interstate. Grant Anderson, an engineer for CDOT, told the Silverthorne Town Council at its last work session that the department is aware of the back-to-back projects, and construction teams will communicate with the public if any cause traffic delays.
“(Some work is) going to butt up to this project on the east end,” Anderson said. “East of that, we’re going to finish up the structure replacement at the box turnaround. Everybody has seen that from last summer. For the public, really our problem and our challenge as a team is that this is going to look like one giant work zone. We’ll get complaints coming into one complaint line for unrelated projects, and we’re going to have to manage that.”
In addition to projects west of Summit County, like on Vail Pass, CDOT is looking to work on several projects east of the county.
Structure replacement west of Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels
Crews for this project are expected to return in April, as well. This project aims to replace a single-lane concrete box culvert, or drainage structure, which was built in the late 1960s during the original construction of I-70. Located 2.6 miles west of the tunnels, this project began last year. From May until September, two westbound and three eastbound lanes will be open, but there will be various lane closures.
“The project will first construct the remaining eastbound bridge, median guardrail and concrete barrier. Once bridge and median construction are complete, crews will repave and restripe I-70 through the project limits,” project information from CDOT reads.
CDOT will also complete a new underpass and reconstruction of approximately 1,900 feet of the access road under I-70.
“When work resumes in the spring, another primary focus will be finer detail work; namely erosion control measures, landscaping and aesthetic components,” the project information continues. “Much of this work is temperature dependent and needs to be completed during warmer temperatures.”
Speed limit signs between Empire and Idaho Springs
Starting in 2021, this project focused on installing electronic, variable speed limit signs along I-70. Using the LED display, the speed limit can be changed to best suit conditions on the highway as needed based on traffic speed and volume, weather conditions, road conditions and traffic incidents.
In 2022, drivers should expect to see the department begin to test the signs between Empire and Idaho Springs. Testing for these signs is expected to continue through the spring.
Clear Creek Greenway path near Idaho Springs
Crews will construct a trail system that includes two project segments near I-70 between Idaho Springs and Dumont at mile markers 235 and 242. There are no expected I-70 lane closures for this project, but traffic control and flagging operations will be in effect to mobilize heavy machinery through Riverside Drive.
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