CDOT and Kraemer North America begin work to replace structurally deficient emergency access structure near Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel

News Release

April 1, 2021 - Northwestern Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY – The Colorado Department of Transportation and contractor partner Kraemer North America will soon begin work to replace a failing emergency access structure underneath Interstate 70 that is also important to the structural integrity of the road itself. Located just west of the Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnel, the underpass is structurally deficient and requires immediate replacement. Known as “The Box," the underpass is used by ambulance services, law enforcement, tow companies and other emergency services on the busy section of I-70 between the tunnel and Silverthorne. The road itself sits atop this structure. 


The existing structure, a single-lane concrete box culvert, was built in the late 1960s during the original construction of I-70. It is currently in poor condition and is functionally obsolete. In order to replace it, work will begin next week along I-70, approximately 2.6 miles west of the tunnel. Starting mid-week, westbound motorists can expect two lanes of traffic from the tunnel to Mile Point 211, to ensure safety and emergency pull-off access for the traveling public.

“In order to prevent major traffic impacts, we’re using a tried-and-true strategy for managing construction projects in this area,” said Regional Transportation Director Michael Goolsby. “By extending two westbound lanes further west from the tunnel and closer to Silverthorne and Exit 205, we’re preventing a bottleneck from developing for westbound traffic. Three uphill eastbound lanes will be maintained throughout the duration of the project.”

I-70 Structure Replacement Illustration


When complete, the new underpass will improve the structural integrity of I-70 in that location and ensure safe access for emergency services to motorists, as well as efficient maintenance and plowing operations. The new structure will be widened to 36 feet, which will accommodate two-way traffic and improve the approach turning radius.


I-70 Structure Project Map


The scope for this project includes removal and replacement of the current structure, reconstructing approximately 1,900 feet of the access road, shifting westbound and eastbound I-70 lanes as needed for construction phasing, erosion control and drainage improvements. Work will continue until fall. There will be a winter shutdown for the project, allowing all six lanes of I-70 traffic to be open, at regular speeds, for the 2021 - 2022 winter season and heavy ski traffic. Work will resume in Spring 2022 and the project is expected to be completed by the end of Summer 2022.

Travel Impacts

  • I-70 speed limits reduced from 60 mph to 50 mph. Whenever possible, construction will occur during non-peak travel times.

  • Westbound I-70: The existing far right lane on the west end of the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel will be closed during construction and will serve as an emergency pull-off. The lane will reopen during the winter shutdown. This means that the shift from two-to-three lanes that travelers always experience when exiting the tunnel on the west side will occur at the western edge of the construction zone rather than immediately upon exiting the tunnel. 

  • Eastbound I-70: Three uphill eastbound lanes will be maintained throughout the duration of the project so there will be no shift in that traffic pattern at this location, which becomes a choke point during periods of high traffic. 

  • Motorists should anticipate possible delays during construction activity though every attempt is being made to minimize traffic impacts. Closures down to a lane will be very limited and only at night. 

  • Runaway truck ramps on westbound I-70 at MP 212 and MP 209 will remain open during construction.

  • Drivers should stay observant of variable lane widths and travel conditions during construction.

  • The project team will coordinate with the Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnel staff, emergency responders and nearby construction projects to keep traffic moving as smoothly as possible. 

Project & Travel Info

For additional information about this project, contact the project team. 

Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” Gather information about weather forecasts and anticipated travel impacts and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include:

Remember: Slow for the Cone Zone

The following tips are to help you stay safe while traveling through maintenance and construction work zones.

  • Do not speed in work zones. Obey the posted speed limits.

  • Stay Alert! Expect the unexpected.

  • Watch for workers. Drive with caution.

  • Don't change lanes unnecessarily.

  • Avoid using mobile devices such as phones while driving in work zones.

  • Turn on headlights so that workers and other drivers can see you.

  • Be especially alert at night while driving in work zones.

  • Expect delays, especially during peak travel times.

  • Allow ample space between you and the car in front of you.

  • Anticipate lane shifts and merge when directed to do so.

  • Be patient!

About CDOT

CDOT’s Whole System-Whole Safety program has one simple mission — to get everyone home safely. Our approximately 3,000 employees work tirelessly to reduce the rate and severity of crashes and improve the safety of all modes of transportation. The department manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway, more than 3,000 bridges and 35 mountain passes. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and airports. It also operates Bustang, the state-owned interregional express bus service. Gov. Jared Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s intermodal mobility options.