Summit County travel hampered by latest construction project on I-70
Traffic slowed and there were minor delays Monday as construction crews began maintenance operations on eastbound Interstate 70 between Frisco and Silverthorne.
The work launched Monday represents the second of a three-phase project to repave 20 miles of I-70 before the ski season. The project, which is being headed by the Colorado Department of Transportation and APC Southern, aims to repave sections of the right-hand, eastbound climbing lanes between Vail and the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnel. The project kicked off last month with paving operations on three sections of Vail Pass between mileposts 178 and 215.
“This section of I-70 is one of the most challenging and heavily traveled highways in the state, bearing a tremendous amount of wear and tear,” said CDOT resident engineer Grant Anderson in a news release. “We are excited to provide the needed safety improvements by resurfacing the deeply rutted lanes in the eastbound direction. These improvements should provide significant safety benefits for the coming winter season.”
Eastbound traffic will be reduced to one lane as crews continue to remove and replace about 2 inches of asphalt, resulting in a smoother driving surface, along 10 miles of I-70 between exit 203 — the Frisco/Breckenridge exit — and the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnel. Construction is scheduled to take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday, until crews reach the tunnel.
Tracy Trulove, CDOT spokeswoman for Region 3, did not know exactly how long it would take crews to make their uphill march — estimating crews could reach the tunnel by the end of the month — but said the three-phase project is scheduled for completion by the end of October, weather permitting.
The third phase of the project includes repaving operations on all four lanes inside the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnel, as well as the tunnel’s auxiliary parking lots.
Traffic will be reduced to one lane in either direction when crews begin repaving inside the tunnels, but that work is scheduled to take place at night, Trulove said. Speed limits through the construction zones will be reduced to 45 miles per hour.
In addition to construction on the eastbound, right-hand lane, CDOT announced late Monday that crews will be conducting core sampling of the eastbound, left-hand lane between mileposts 208 and 211. That work is scheduled for Tuesday and will last one day.
Traffic will be reduced to one lane to accommodate the core sampling project, meaning traffic will be diverted into the left-hand lane through the repaving zone and then back into the right-hand lane between mileposts 208 and 211.
Colorado Highway 9 update
Local residents may have noticed a shift in the traffic configuration on Colorado Highway 9 between The Church at Agape Outpost and Breckenridge, opening up the center lanes for repaving operations, as well as construction of a median.
Construction activity is expected to ramp up in the coming weeks, Anderson said, and travelers should expect short delays as equipment and materials move into the area.
“There’s going to be a lot more activity because we have a lot more real estate to work with,” Anderson said. “We’re still on schedule to finish in October, but we’re asking the public to be patient, as there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
In addition to paving and median work, crews also recently began construction of a roundabout at Fairview Boulevard. Although the finished product will feature two lanes, traffic through the roundabout has been reduced to one until construction is complete.
Although the new configuration hasn’t caused any major problems, Anderson asked travelers to exercise additional caution as they navigate through the new roundabout.
“There are certain rules drivers need to follow as they make their way through a roundabout,” Anderson said. “Look left and if someone is coming, yield. That’s an important rule to follow now, but it will be even more important when the roundabout is completed with its two-lane configuration.”
Twin Tunnels update
Emily Wilfong, CDOT spokeswoman for Region 1, said expansion operations on the eastbound bore of the Twin Tunnels near Idaho Springs also is on schedule and should be completed by the end of December.
Blasting operations are scheduled to continue for the next several weeks and will primarily result in periodic 30-minute delays for westbound travelers.
The next major milestone is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks when crews install the tunnel’s liners. Tunnel linings are structural systems installed after excavation to provide ground support, to maintain the tunnel opening, to limit the inflow of ground water and to provide a base for the final finished exposed surface of the tunnel.
Peak shoulder lanes update
Construction on CDOT’s peak period shoulder lane on the eastbound side of I-70 between Empire Junction and Idaho Springs shifted this month to a 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. schedule.
The change was made to allow crews to take advantage of vital daylight hours in an effort to minimize the need to conduct nighttime construction operations, Wilfong said. Travelers can expect reduced traffic speeds through the construction area during the weekdays, but CDOT officials do not anticipate having to expand construction operations to the weekend.
Launched in July, the project would add an optional tolled lane for eastbound travelers during peak travel times in a 13-mile section of the Mountain Corridor notorious for slow travel speeds. The peak period shoulder lanes should open to travelers in the fall of 2015.
To receive real-time updates about state highway road conditions, visit http://www.coloradodot.info and click on the green cell phone icon in the upper right-hand corner of the page. Live road conditions are available at http://www.cotrip.org, by downloading the CDOT Mobile app or by calling 511 from anywhere in the state.
Updates also are available through Twitter @coloradodot and CDOT’s Facebook page.
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