I-70 East Viaduct Shows First Sign of Age

June 5, 2015 - Denver Metro/CDOT Region 1 - Bridge remains safe however will face increased inspection in coming years.

DENVER, CO – The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) today announced that key early repairs made to the I-70 East viaduct between Brighton and Colorado boulevards are beginning to deteriorate. Several post tension rods, installed to reduce cracking along the viaduct, have corroded and separated from the bridge.

Initial signs of cracking and deterioration were first detected in 1981, which triggered regular inspections and repairs to the structure. In 1997, CDOT installed post tensioning rods to stop additional cracking and, in 2005, allowed loads on the bridge were reduced to prolong its life. A final series of major repairs, totaling over $30 million, were made in 2011.

A recent CDOT inspection found that three tension cables, part of the 1997 repair, had corroded and separated from the structure. The broken cables, which are easily visible from the side of the bridge, each have secondary cables that remain in place and therefore do not pose any immediate safety concerns.

“The recent deterioration of these repairs only highlights the degradation of this important structure and our need to replace it. CDOT has increased our inspection frequency on the bridge and are developing repair plans should further components deteriorate. Safety of the public remains our primary focus,” said CDOT’s Chief Engineer, Josh Laipply.

The I-70 East viaduct was constructed in 1964. Initially designed as a four lane bridge, growth along I-70 triggered the need for an additional lane in each direction, which was added by narrowing shoulders and reducing lane widths along the bridge. Today the 50-year old bridge is a critical piece of the state’s only east-west interstate, carrying over 115,000 vehicles per day.

“This deterioration, while not a public safety concern, reminds us that we are working under a clock. CDOT will continue to make the repairs we need to keep the bridge safe but our ultimate goal remains to permanently address both this aging structure and growing congestion along this stretch of interstate. We are taking the final steps to bring major and long lasting safety and congestion improvements to I-70 East, said Tony DeVito, CDOT’s I-70 East Project Director.

A lengthy environmental study and public engagement process for I-70 East is nearing its final stages as CDOT works to prepare a final Environmental Impact Statement and determine how I-70 East should be funded and delivered. The preferred alternative would remove the I-70 East viaduct, lower the highway and construct a 4-acre cover over a portion of the interstate, and add one additional Express Toll Lane in each direction from I-25 to I-225. For more information on the I-70 East project, visit www.coloradohpte.com, www.codot.gov/projects/i70east, or www.I-70east.com.