West bore of tunnel to close Sunday | SummitDaily.com

West bore of tunnel to close Sunday

SUMMIT COUNTY – Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) crews will close the westbound bore of the Eisenhower Tunnel at 9 p.m. Sunday so workers can begin repair work on a culvert that runs underneath the interstate.

Westbound traffic will be diverted into one of the two lanes in the eastbound bore, said CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson.

The culvert, which diverts water from the headwaters of Straight Creek at the south end of the Williams Fork Range into a ditch on the south side of the highway, has been weakened by age and high spring runoff. Segments of the interstate and the culverts through Summit County were built in the 1970s, although others closer to Denver date to the 1950s.

Crews will replace about 20 feet of culvert in the westbound lanes. The culvert under the eastbound lanes is still intact. They hope to complete work by noon June 27.

The roadway, while soft, still can support traffic, although westbound trucks are restricted to the left lane. Westbound traffic will be permitted through the eastbound bore of the tunnel when the westbound bore is closed.

CDOT crews also will close Loveland Pass at night, beginning next week, so they can start bridge repair work. Trucks carrying hazardous materials, which are required to use Loveland Pass, will be permitted through the tunnel at the top of every hour in the evening.

Wide loads – described as being 8-feet, 6 inches or wider – won’t be allowed in the tunnel or over Loveland Pass at night. Instead, they will be detoured to Highway 285 from Denver to Fairplay, over Hoosier Pass to Breckenridge and back to Interstate 70 at Frisco.

CDOT officials plan to initiate a culvert inspection program next month after a culvert under the westbound lane of I-70 near east Vail failed after high runoff eroded sand from around the pipe. The pipe’s failure resulted in a 20-by-20-foot sinkhole in the interstate near Vail. Repair work there, estimated to cost at least $2 million, should be complete in one to two weeks, Wilson said.

The collapsed culvert in Vail has prompted CDOT officials to draft plans to inspect about 2,000 culverts on I-70 between New Castle and west Denver beginning in July.

“We want to be as aggressive with culverts as we are with bridges,” Wilson said. “This brought us to the realization that we have to look at culverts a little more frequently, especially this time of year when there’s a lot of runoff. It exacerbates the whole situation.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.

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