2017 Year in Review: Colorado transportation on the move with Hyperloop project, parking and highway expansion projects
It sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, but Colorado has been named one of 10 finalists for the Hyperloop One competition, which could end with a vacuum-sealed tunnel shooting people from Cheyenne to Pueblo and Vail to Denver at speeds up to 700 miles per hour.
The futuristic, pod-based transportation system for Colorado could cost as much as $24 billion, but it’s only one of a number of major developments in the realm of transportation throughout 2017. The proposed route for a Colorado Hyperloop accounts for roughly 360 miles total, and the Los Angeles firm that’s sponsoring the contest has already moved into the next phase, where the company will further narrow down the candidates.
The firm reportedly liked Colorado’s proposal so much, however, that it is working with the Colorado Department of Transportation to complete a feasibility study for the a Hyperloop system regardless of the contest results.
One development in transportation that’s more local and more concrete, Breckenridge officials have committed the town to starting construction on a new parking garage at the Tiger Dredge parking lot in 2018 after town council picked out the location and early design perimeters for the project this year.
The new parking garage will not be as large as officials with Breckenridge Ski Resort would have necessarily liked, but it will add roughly 300 parking spaces in the downtown core, where more parking is desperately needed. Early estimates put the cost of the structure at about $9 million. Additionally, Breckenridge opened the Four O’clock roundabout in June, which has created a more steady traffic flow on Park Avenue.
None of that, however, overshadows a Highway 9 expansion project north of Breckenridge that was completed just in time for the winter. The work cost roughly $23 million, and called the Iron Springs realignment project, ground was broken in June 2016. The two-year project stands as one of Summit County’s more ambitious transportation improvements as of late, converting a stretch of Highway 9 between Frisco and Breckenridge from two lanes to four and cutting out the hairpin turn known as “Leslie’s Curve” in the process.
What’s more is state funding has been slated for doing more work on Highway 9, possibly including a $10 million highway project between Frisco and Breckenridge to establish four continuous lanes all the way from Interstate 70 to Main Street in Breckenridge.
The project, known colloquially as “the gap,” would put a finishing touch on the Iron Springs bypass. Funding isn’t yet final, but the CDOT has confirmed it’s one of 11 projects slated to receive money from a $1.9 billion funding package passed by the State Legislature last spring.
All of this work is aimed at coping with increased traffic in Summit County and Colorado in general.
Nowhere is the amount of additional traffic in the mountains more apparent than at the Eisenhower Tunnel, which has set records for the number of vehicles passing through it each of the last three years.
According to CDOT, the Aug. 4-6 weekend surpassed the all-time high and now stands as the new titleholder with more than 157,600 vehicles using the Interstate 70 mountain corridor during that time frame. The three-day number shattered the old record by more than 4,000 cars. The same was true in 2016 when the last weekend of July surpassed the 2015’s record record tally of 150,500 cars.
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