This iconic Colorado mountaintop tunnel is turning 50 |

This iconic Colorado mountaintop tunnel is turning 50

The Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels is credited with opening the western half of Colorado to a second gold rush in tourism.

Matt Renoux
The Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels are pictured Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

CLEAR CREEK COUNTY — When the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels opened on March 8, 1973, they finally linked Interstate 70 from east to west, shorting the drive between Denver and the mountains of western Colorado.

The Eisenhower Tunnel is a marvel of construction and of innovation.

The tunnel was cut under the Loveland Ski Area and through the Continental Divide and the Loveland Fault, an extremely difficult job at the time.

Those challenges meant the work took longer and cost more than expected. Construction lasted five years and the first tunnel cost $117 million, which would be around one billion dollars in 2023.

Once it opened, the Eisenhower Tunnel changed Colorado by kickstarting the state’s tourism.

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