This blog comes to CSCUSA from Bob Wilson, Public Relations Manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation.
With a lot more people expected to travel Interstate 70 west of Denver over the next few weeks for Spring Break and as part of enjoying the last part of the ski season, we believe this is a good opportunity to pass on what’s currently occurring on the corridor.
In December, we began a new way of metering traffic during congested periods at the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels. This method is similar to the ramp metering method used in the Denver metro area and at other I-70 interchanges west of Denver. Traffic is being spread into four lanes with traffic signals located above each lane. The traffic signals are being used to alternate lanes of traffic in an effort to more efficiently regulate the flow of traffic into the tunnel. The traffic signals are cycling about every 4 to 8 seconds so that vehicles will only have to stop briefly before being allowed to enter into the tunnel.
CDOT hopes this continuous flow metering with only brief stops will reduce the delays caused by traditional metering, which requires all vehicles to stop up to 20 minutes at a time. For every minute traffic is stopped using the old way of metering, it can take as much as eight minutes to get the backed up traffic moving again.
As to construction, we’re set to begin widening eastbound I-70 from two to three lanes, beginning at east Idaho Springs and continuing to the bottom of Floyd Hill, where the highway goes to three lanes. This will include widening the eastbound Twin Tunnel as well. So, beginning on Monday, April 1, all eastbound traffic will begin using the frontage road as a detour to loop around the Twin Tunnels. It’s a short detour – traffic rejoins I-70 just west of the Hidden Valley Interchange – but expect traffic slowdowns through the area, both due to the amount of traffic and a reduced 35 mph speed limit.
In addition, since we’re tunneling, blasting operations will be taking place, requiring all eastbound and westbound traffic to be stopped up to 30 minutes at a time. They’ll be several operations per day, beginning in early to mid-April. However, no blasting will be taking place during peak travel times, like Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons. We expect to be finished with blasting by July or August so the stops will stop but the detour route remains active through late 2013, when we’re scheduled to reopen the “new and wider” I-70 through Clear Creek Canyon. Adding that third lane to eastbound I-70 is part of CDOT’s strategy at improving safety and reducing congestion along one of the state’s busiest corridors which will also improve gas mileage and air quality.
We know more projects will be required in the future to improve safety and traffic flow on I-70 but we need to start somewhere. And, since the Twin Tunnels is a common bottleneck, this is where it was decided to begin.
If you want up-to-date blasting information, please call our hotline at (303) 327-4034 or visit our project website at www.coloradodot.info/projects/i70twintunnels
In addition to these Twin Tunnel information sources, CDOT has other resources for getting the latest on what’s occurring, not only on I-70 but on other highways as well.
To receive updates via email or text, please visit www.coloradodot.info and click on the cell-phone icon in the upper right-hand corner. That link takes you to a list of items you can subscribe to, including the Twin Tunnels and I-70 West of Denver. Updates also are available via Twitter @coloradodot and on CDOT’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/coloradodot.
CDOT also has launched a smartphone application to provide drivers with easier access to I-70 traveler information. It includes travel speeds and times, road conditions, incidents, road work; and feeds from CDOT’s closed-circuit television cameras and alerts. Text CDOT to 25827 or download CDOT Mobile from your App store.
Safe travels from CDOT!