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Federal officials kick in $25 million for westbound I-70 express lane into mountains

June 6, 2018, 8:15 am
summertime traffic on I-70

Summertime traffic on I-70 (I-70 Coalition photo).

The federal government is kicking in $90 million to fix two brutal bottlenecks for traffic on Colorado’s key east-west and north-south interstate highways — I-70 and I-25 — Colorado Department of Transportation officials confirmed Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) will send $25 million to CDOT to add an additional 12-mile shoulder lane to westbound I-70 in Clear Creek County. Eastbound I-70 already has an express toll lane in that area for peak travel times.

The other $65 million will be spent on adding toll lanes to both northbound and southbound I-25 from Castle Rock to Monument between Denver and Colorado Springs. That section is currently only four lanes and is therefore subject to intense gridlock.

CDOT has been pleased with the performance of the eastbound express lane through Clear Creek County on I-70, saying it’s helped alleviate massive traffic jams caused by weekend skier traffic and overall tourism in the Colorado mountains. The state transit agency has made a similar westbound express lane a top priority.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, worked with the rest of Colorado’s congressional delegation to secure funding for the project, which will begin in the summer of 2019.

“This grant will go a long way in alleviating traffic on I-70 west, making it easier to get up to the mountains we all love and rely on for our economic vitality. I’m proud to have helped secure this funding for the highway in my district,” Polis said in a release. “When the Colorado delegation works together to advocate for Colorado, as we did here, we can move mountains (and traffic)!”

Polis, who’s currently seeking the Democratic Party nomination to run for governor, represents a large district that straddles the Front Range and mountains, including the eastern side of Eagle County and Vail.

Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, also praised the announcement.

“Coloradans who commute on South I-25 every day or utilize I-70 to travel to the Western Slope and experience the beautiful public lands Colorado has to offer are all too familiar with the unbearable traffic on Colorado highways,” Gardner said in a release. “These projects will help alleviate congestion on South I-25 and I-70 and help improve the lives of every Coloradan who travels our roads.”

Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, also weighed in:

“Colorado’s infrastructure requires significant investment to keep pace with the enormous growth of new residents and tourists,” Bennet said in a release. “These grants will help make improvements to the critical links Coloradans use every day to reach the high country and Southern Colorado.”

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