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The Colorado Department of Transportation on Thursday issued the following press release on the start of construction for an auxiliary lane on Interstate 70 over Vail Pass:
The Colorado Department of Transportation is excited to announce preliminary construction has begun on the I-70 West Vail Pass Auxiliary Lanes project. Initial construction activities focus on reconstructing the truck ramp near Mile Point 182, just east of Vail, and installing a highway closure system near Mile Point 190 at the top of Vail Pass. The truck ramp reconstruction began Monday, Aug. 9, with light construction impacts. More significant construction activities will start in spring 2022, spanning 10 miles of Interstate 70 from East Vail to the top of Vail Pass.
To kick off construction, the project team has launched a virtual project announcement with an overview of the initial construction activities this month, and look ahead to significant construction starting in 2022. The project announcement can be found at https://www.codot.gov/projects/i70westvailauxiliarylanes/construction.
Beginning in August, daytime work hours range from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with minimal traffic impacts in 2021. Impacts during construction work in August through November 2021 will include the closure of the CMV truck ramp at MP 182.5. To complete the truck ramp reconstruction, there will be shoulder closures and limited lane closures near the ramp. There will also be shoulder and limited lane closures at MP 190-191 to allow crews to install the new highway closure system. There will be no construction activities taking place along the I-70 corridor from late November to early April to minimize impact during the winter season. More significant construction activities will begin in spring 2022.
Motorists should also be aware of the concurrent I-70 West Vail Pass Resurfacing project consisting of asphalt paving, repairs to several bridge decks and guardrail installation. The two construction teams will work together to minimize impacts to the traveling public. For more information, visit https://www.codot.gov/projects/i70-w-vail-resurfacing.
About the Project
The I-70 West Vail Pass Auxiliary Lanes project will improve safety and operations on West Vail Pass. The project limits extend from the East Vail Exit at Mile Point 180 to the Vail Pass Rest Area at Mile Point 190 and include a wide range of improvements to address the unique nature of Vail Pass. This stretch of I-70 has steep grades and tight curves and the intermingling of faster-moving passenger vehicles with slower-moving trucks that often result in inconsistent travel times along the corridor. Major construction will be completed in 2024.
In June 2020, CDOT was awarded a $60.7 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for significant improvements to Vail Pass on I-70. This, combined with other funding sources, will allow for the construction of the first phase of the project, totaling $140.4 million. With support from the Intermountain, Gunnison Valley, Northwest Transportation Planning Regions (TPR), and the Grand Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)/TPR — the INFRA Grant will facilitate work on the areas of highest crash rates and greatest operational challenges.
Vail Pass is a dramatic and challenging section of I-70 in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Completed in 1979, the pass as we know it has struggled to keep up with Colorado’s growing population and traffic while still serving as an essential connection in Colorado and the nation’s transportation network. Vail Pass is also subject to extreme weather and harsh natural elements. The resulting wear and tear and challenging driving conditions come at a cost: the crash rate on Vail Pass is the highest for all of I-70, per million vehicle miles traveled, with 558 crashes from 2014 to 2016. The INFRA grant will save taxpayer dollars by helping reduce accidents and minimize costly detours. The estimated economic impact for detours is $1 million for every hour I-70 is closed.
Design of the I-70 West Vail Pass Auxiliary Lanes project started in early 2021 on the Phase 1 INFRA Improvements that have identified funding. The Phase 1 INFRA Improvements include:
More information is available at:
Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” Gather information about weather forecasts, anticipated travel impacts and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include: