Record of Decision Signed for I-70 Mountain Corridor

June 16, 2011 - Central Eastern Colorado/CDOT Region 1 - DENVER – After more than 20 years of extensive study, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) signed the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Interstate 70 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) today, establishing the framework for implementing major improvements on the I-70 Corridor between C-470 and Glenwood Springs.

“The dedication of many stakeholders working together has brought us to this point of having a Tier 1 Record of Decision,” said the FHWA’s Colorado Division Administrator John Cater.  “We all need to continue working together in this same spirit as we implement future transportation improvements in the Mountain Corridor.”

With today’s signing, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the FHWA now can initiate smaller, project-specific studies and projects within the corridor, consistent with the ROD.  These subsequent studies, that now will be referred to as Tier 2 processes, will develop and evaluate specific construction projects within the corridor, if and when funding is available.

Specific highway improvements include:

  • Six lanes from Floyd Hill through the Twin Tunnels, including a bike trail and frontage roads from Idaho Springs east to Hidden Valley and Hidden Valley to U.S. 6
  • Empire Junction (U.S. 40/I-70) improvements
  • Eastbound auxiliary lane from the Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnel (EJMT) to Herman Gulch
  • Westbound auxiliary lane from Bakerville to the EJMT

The Preferred Alternative within the ROD also includes a commitment to evaluate and implement an Advanced Guideway System (AGS) in the corridor.  CDOT begins the AGS Study this summer.

“This is a significant milestone, not just for the people who live along this corridor but for the citizens of this state,” said Les Gruen, chairman of the Colorado Transportation Commission.  “I commend everyone for their hard work and dedication to this entire process and for getting us to this point today.”

The recommended alternative from the Collaborative Effort (CE) is the Preferred Alternative.  The CE, a 27-member group representing various corridor interests, was charged with reaching consensus on a recommended transportation solution that CDOT and FHWA adopted in the PEIS.  In addition, the PEIS is responsive to comments from the public.

“Implementing the CE process was crucial and a great example of what can be accomplished when everyone comes together to improve our transportation system,” said CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt.  “I want to thank all the individuals involved in this process for their dedication, perseverance and contributions above and beyond their regular responsibilities.”

Previous studies have been undertaken over the last couple of decades, seeking strategies to mitigate increasing traffic on I-70 west of Denver.   The Major Investment Study was implemented in the 1990s, and the original Draft PEIS was released in 2004.  It was exceedingly slow in moving forward due to stakeholder concerns regarding a long-term vision and a funding cap that had been placed on improvements.  In response, CDOT and the FHWA began the Collaborative Decision Making process in 2007, in partnership with a variety of stakeholders, including the CE.