Udall secures $3 million for upgrading I-70 tunnels | SummitDaily.com

Udall secures $3 million for upgrading I-70 tunnels

SUMMIT COUNTY – Democratic Congressman Mark Udall has secured more than $3 million to enhance traffic operations through Interstate 70’s tunnels.

The United States Department of Transportation awarded $3,078,186 for the improvements as part of the federal transportation spending bill for the 2003 fiscal year. According to a press release from Udall’s Washington, D.C. office, the federal grant will pay for a project to integrate systems that provide traveler information, response to accidents and spills, closed-circuit television coverage of interstate traffic and weather conditions and network links between the Colorado Department of Transportation operation centers in Denver, the Eisenhower Tunnel and possibly the Hanging Lakes Tunnel near Glenwood Springs.

“This funding will help with traffic management in the heavily congested Colorado ski areas and mountain communities, and support more efficient and safer travel on I-70,” Udall said in the press release. “It will help travelers better plan their trips when incidents arise, like the recent sinkhole that closed I-70 for several days.”

Udall, along with CDOT executive director Tom Norton and CDOT engineers, visited the sinkhole site June 7.

Heavy rainfall and snow runoff caused the failure of a culvert beneath the interstate on June 2. The pavement above the culvert in the westbound lanes of I-70 above East Vail collapsed. CDOT closed the interstate off and on for three days, forcing traffic detours through Minturn and Leadville. Traffic on the interstate is reduced to two-way traffic on one side of the interstate as contractors continue repairs.

Udall visited the site to learn about the cause of the problem and to be able to better argue his case to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The committee is attempting to prioritize highway projects as legislators prepare to reauthorize the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. The bill will outline how federal funds are spent on transportation for the next five years.

Udall hopes to convince the committee to authorize $2.5 billion for I-70 improvements. The money would pay for traffic solutions identified by the I-70 Programmitic Environmental Impact Statement, which could include mass transit and highway widening.

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or rwilliams@summitdaily.com.

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