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Interstate signs dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen who fought in World War II

October 8, 2021 - Central/Eastern Colorado - Signs honor America’s first Black military airmen who fought for equality and our country

DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation’s interstate signs commemorating the Tuskegee Airmen were reinstalled along Interstate 70 at Dahlia Street and I-270 on Sept. 29. In 2006, I-70 between York and Peoria streets was named the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Highway in honor of the first Black aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps, a precursor of the U.S. Air Force. The group was founded in 1941 and ceased operation in 1946 after flying more than 15,000 missions during World War II.

“The Tuskegee Airmen’s legacy is important to uphold,” said CDOT’s Chief Engineer Steve Harelson. “The Airmen’s incredible demonstration of perseverance, strength and selflessness during hardship are lessons we can still learn from today. We hope that those who travel on I-70 and see this sign are reminded of the sacrifices the Airmen made and the path they paved for a more equitable future.”  

The signage dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen had to be temporarily removed due to construction activities as part of the Central 70 Project. On Oct. 7, CDOT and Colorado Senator James Coleman celebrated the final installation of the signage during an unveiling event. The signs are now viewable to all motorists in the area.  

“My dear father, Colonel Marion Raymond Rodgers, was a Tuskegee Airmen P-51 pilot,” said visual artist Denise Vosburgh. “My dad was always calm, an optimist and thought of others first. He never took anything for granted and always faced a challenge head-on.”

These brave pilots flew during a time when the Army was still deeply segregated, yet they triumphed, winning awards ranging from the Distinguished Flying Cross to the Purple Heart. The Tuskegee Airmen returned home to continued racism and prejudice, but represented important progress in preparing the United States for the racial integration of the military. On July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9981 that officially desegregated the U.S. Armed Forces and mandated equality of opportunity and treatment. 

Many of the Tuskegee Airmen eventually made their homes in Colorado and are honored here to this day. 

“The Tuskegee Airmen are an inspiration to us all,” said Harelson. “They hurdled obstacles built to hold them and others back, but they never gave up their fight for a better future for generations to come. It’s an honor to have their signs, and their history, as a part of our interstate system.”

MEDIA KIT: Click here for pictures and videos from the sign unveiling event hosted on Oct. 7. 

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. 

About the Central 70 Project

The Central 70 Project will reconstruct a 10-mile stretch of I-70, add one new Express Lane in each direction, remove the aging 57-year-old viaduct and lower the interstate between Brighton and Colorado boulevards. More information on the Project, including a list of the Project’s community commitments, are available at central70.codot.gov.

Stay Informed

  • Text Alerts - Text Central70 to 77948

  • Email Updates - Sign up for Project updates at c70.codot.gov 

  • Website - c70.codot.gov - Traffic Impacts page 

  • Watch progress on the webcam