IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – As Colorado digs out from last weekend’s storm, the Colorado Department of Transportation is ramping up some construction projects, with many of them along Interstate 70.
In just a few weeks one of the projects is going to start on I-70 near Empire where CDOT is going to widen the interstate to three lanes. It will only be in use during peak travel times and they’re going to charge to use it.
Another project is already a quarter of the way finished. Work is steadily progressing inside the westbound lanes of the Twin Tunnels project. So far there have been 18 blasts inside the tunnel.
“We’ve blasted through about 250 feet of the 800 feet in the tunnel,” Crystal Morgan with CDOT said.
The work on the massive high walls outside the tunnel is going a little slower.
“Almost every day of this project we’re doing either a blast, rock scaling or both,” Morgan said. “We’re working 24 hours a day, six days a week.”
The blasting both inside and outside is stopping traffic between five and 25 minutes. CDOT says they’ve heard from some drivers upset about being stopped.
“Boulders are going to fall and actually bouncing into traffic. So if there were cars traveling underneath them those cars could possibly be crushed by those boulders falling off the rock face,” Morgan said.
While the detour near the tunnels is still in place, work will soon begin to add the peak period shoulder lane.
“So during off-peak hours that will just be a shoulder lane. During peak times you’ll be able to utilize that road as a tolled facility to get down the mountain in a quicker time,” Morgan said.
One of the hardest parts of the project to widen the interstate enough to allow the peak period shoulder lane is that the two bridges over the interstate in Idaho Springs will have to be demolished and rebuilt on a tight timeline.
“Construction will last throughout the rest of this summer, through next year, and we should be open the peak period shoulder lane eastbound by the fall 2015,” Morgan said.
The widening of the westbound Twin Tunnel is still on schedule to be completed in the middle of this December.