IDAHO SPRINGS — Front Range motorists quickly can also have a less complicated time making their way as much as the mountains because the Colorado Department of Transportation kicks off its Westbound I-70 Mountain Express Lane Project.
Dozens accumulated Thursday morning alongside Interstate 70 in Idaho Springs as officers from across the state broke floor on the project, which ambitions to lessen congestion and enhance safety for drivers alongside the mountain hall.
“We did this at the start on the east side of I-70, wherein we built a specific lane, and after that, it clearly improved traffic go with the flow,” CDOT statewide communications supervisor Bob Wilson stated. “There’s an apparent want to widen I-70 in the course of the corridor. So that is simply the subsequent step. It’s a huge deal in that it’s going to enhance traffic drift and improve protection throughout this complete tight stretch of Interstate 70.”
The $70 million tasks, to be finished by using Graham Construction out of Denver, will convert a shoulder into a further lane on westbound I-70. The greater lane will open as a toll lane all through height tour times, effectively widening the dual carriageway for about a thirteen-mile spread between the Veterans Memorial Tunnels and Empire Junction, one of the greater congestion-heavy stretches of the interstate.
A comparable specific lane venture opened at the eastbound aspect of the road in 2015 and has been extensively considered an achievement via state officials. The eastbound lane opens approximately one hundred days in step with the year at some point of height transit times — often weekends and holidays. Officials are hopeful the westbound lane will make a comparable impact.
“Here in Colorado, we adore our mountains,” Gov. Jared Polis said on the groundbreaking. “Whether you want to hike or motorcycle or ski or snowboard or just revel in the view — it’s really a vital part of who we’re as a country, and of course the dual carriageway 70 corridor is critical economic lifeblood for our communities within the High Country.
“We all realize that moving into the mountains the usage of the highway 70 hall may be difficult all through those height tour times. And the more time people sit down in visitors, the much less time you need to enjoy our stunning kingdom. That’s clearly why we’re right here today, to mark the release of a further lane on highway 70 westbound, complementing the eastbound height capacity lane so that you can absolutely assist make a dent inside the traffic all through those height intervals.”
Polis endured saying the more lane could benefit no longer handiest those inclined to pay the toll but also motorists in the trendy reason lanes that should be less crowded.
In addition to addressing congestion issues, the lane addition also is supposed to assist enhance safety along the hall. As part of the undertaking, CDOT may be putting in a progressed communique device, new safety pullouts, and greater advanced warning signs. The assignment will also include resurfacing paintings for the complete roadway and deliver emergency offerings more clean paths to reply during emergencies.
“Safety is our No. 1 precedence,” CDOT executive director Shoshana Lew said. “These improvements will do lots to assist mitigate congestion-related crashes, prevent rock falls and decorate signage and communique to motorists. This is part of our initiative Whole System Whole Safety, that’s focused on doing everything we possibly can to enhance the protection of our community, reducing the charge and severity of crashes and enhancing protection conditions for those traveling through all modes. We are targeted on one easy aim of getting absolutely everyone domestic safe.”
Construction at the project is scheduled to start Monday, July 15, and the new lane is anticipated to open in summer season 2021. Construction would require shoulder and lane closures at some stage in low volume traffic intervals, though a majority of the development will be completed with each westbound lanes open by means of staging equipment inside the eastbound explicit lane.
Wilson stated CDOT is planning to retain widening areas west of the Empire Junction in destiny years, depending on financing.
“We are planning expansions to the west, and the work goes to be completed as funding allows,” Wilson said.