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Work to Realign I-70 Traffic Through Veterans Memorial Tunnel Scheduled to Begin Saturday Evening

December 11, 2014 - Central/Eastern Colorado/Region 1 - DENVER – Construction crews plan to work overnight Saturday, Dec. 13, to move westbound I-70 traffic into the newly widened tunnel in advance of the colder, wet weather forecast for Sunday and Monday.

Work to move eastbound traffic off the detour and into the other tunnel is currently scheduled to begin Tuesday evening, pending weather conditions. Beginning today, these tunnels will officially be called the Veterans Memorial Tunnels.

Shifting westbound traffic out of the eastbound lanes and into its regular alignment involves removing temporary concrete barriers and restriping all the lanes. This portion of the work will take about 12 hours to complete and will involve single lane closures in the westbound direction beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday. Both westbound lanes will be open and moving through the new tunnel by 5 a.m. Sunday.

People traveling west on I-70 during this timeframe are encouraged to allow extra time to make it through the Veterans Memorial Tunnels area.Saturday evening the Hidden Valley/Central City Parkway on-ramp to westbound I-70 will also be closed while work is done to move barriers and restripe the right lane. Drivers will need to go east on I-70 to the Beaver Brook exit (mile marker 247) to access westbound I-70.

The subsequent work planned to start Tuesday evening to move eastbound I-70 traffic off the detour route and back into its regular alignment will take about 24 hours to complete. This phase of work, which involves extensive asphalt milling and paving work in addition to moving barriers and restriping lanes, is scheduled to begin about 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16.

Tuesday evening and throughout the day Wednesday, people traveling east through the Veterans Memorial Tunnels area can expect various single lane closures and should allow extra time. The Hidden Valley/Central City Parkway off-ramp from eastbound I-70 will also be closed for about 12 hoursWednesday while the right lanes are realigned. Eastbound drivers destined for Central City or Black Hawk should continue east on I-70 to US 6.

“Despite the significant amount of work to be done, we have developed a plan that allows the construction crews to focus on doing the work that is necessary to safely open all I-70 lanes as quickly as possible to minimize inconvenience to mountain travelers,” said Tony DeVito, Colorado Department of Transportation Region 1 Transportation Director. "Although our schedule has changed, we're excited to officially rename the newly widened tunnels to Veterans Memorial Tunnels in honor of the many men and women who have bravely served our country in the United States Armed Forces."

This immediate focus on only doing the work required to safely reopen all lanes of I-70 as soon as possible means there will be additional single lane closures along I-70 in the coming weeks to finish various non-critical activities.

The Westbound I-70 Tunnels project is part of a package of improvements designed to ease congestion on the I-70 mountain corridor. This $55 million project will widen the westbound tunnel bore in Idaho Springs to accommodate a future third westbound lane, but will not add a third highway lane at this time. With resources still in place from the 2013 project that widened the eastbound tunnel, doing this work this year saved about $5 million to $7 million. Project completion is scheduled for the summer of 2015 when restoration work is finished on County Road 314.  For more information, call 303-327-4034 or visit www.coloradodot.info/projects/i70twintunnels. For current road and weather conditions you can also text CDOT to 25827 or download the CDOT mobile application to your smartphone.

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