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Twin Tunnels Blasting Nearing An End

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IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Blasting at the Twin Tunnels in Idaho Springs is coming to an end.

There are plenty of changes to look forward to when heading up Interstate 70 after Colorado Department of Transportation blasted for months in 2013 to create a third lane for eastbound I-70 through the tunnels.

Blasting at the Twin Tunnels (credit: CBS)

Blasting at the Twin Tunnels (credit: CBS)

Since April CDOT has been doing the same thing, but for the westbound direction. Blast number 86 Monday morning was the second to last blast.

“There will literally be the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel,” Amy Ford with CDOT said.

Ford said the second widening project sets the stage for eventually creating a third lane heading west.

“Although we’re not adding that third lane in the area, just the fact that we’re taking the tunnel, making it a little wider, making it more modern, making it lighter, we actually hope it might have a small impact on peoples’ drive as they go up to the mountains,” Ford said.

A wider westbound tunnel will stretch it from 30 feet wide to 53 feet, allowing for emergency vehicles in December.

Also this summer, from Empire heading east to the Twin Tunnels, CDOT says it will build a peak period shoulder lane.

“Basically make it a tolled express lane that will turn on during peak hours and people can pay a toll to use that lane and help increase mobility of movement eastbound,” Ford said.

That’s scheduled for fall 2015 with a fee to be determined. Future plans call for another peak period lane on the westbound side.

“One of the things we want to make sure is we have the capacity to, in that tunnel area, to be able to do it on either side,” Ford said.

There will be one more blast inside the westbound tunnel later this week on the rock floor to allow for future paving. The project will be completed by next summer.

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