DENVER (CBS4)– The Interstate 70 viaduct between Brighton and Colorado Boulevards is showing signs of age 50 years after it was built.

The Colorado Department of Transportation announced that repairs made to the viaduct are beginning to deteriorate. Several tension rods that were installed to reduce cracking along the viaduct have corroded and separated from the bridge.

The I-70 east viaduct was constructed in 1964 and was initially designed as a four-lane bridge. Population growth along I-70 triggered an additional lane in each direction which was added by narrowing shoulders and reducing lane widths across the bridge. The bridge carries more than 115,000 vehicles per day.

“This deterioration, while not a public safety concern, reminds us that we are working under a clock. CDOT will continue to make the repairs we need to keep the bridge safe, but our ultimate goal remains to permanently address both this aging structure and growing congestion along this stretch of interstate. We are taking the final steps to bring major and long lasting safety and congestion improvements to I-70 East, said Tony DeVito, CDOT’s I-70 East Project Director, in a statement.

The I-70 east viaduct (credit: CDOT)

The I-70 east viaduct (credit: CDOT)

CDOT said initial signs of cracking and deterioration were first detected in 1981 which prompted regular inspections and repairs to the structure.

CDOT installed tension rods to stop additional cracking in 1997. In 2005, loads on the bridge were reduced to help the lifespan of the bridge. Another series of repairs were made in 2011 that totaled more than $30 million.

A recent CDOT inspection found that two tension rods that were part of the repairs made in 1997 had corroded and separated from the structure. The broken cables each have secondary cables that remain in place. CDOT said the bridge remains structurally sound.

“The recent deterioration of these repairs only highlights the degradation of this important structure and our need to replace it. CDOT has increased our inspection frequency on the bridge and we are developing repair plans should further components deteriorate. Safety of the public remains our primary focus,” said CDOT’s Chief Engineer, Josh Laipply, in a statement.

CDOT’s lengthy environmental study for I-70 is nearing its final stages to determine how the project should be funded and delivered. The preferred alternative would be to remove the I-70 viaduct, lower the highway and construct a four acre cover and add an additional Express Toll Lane in each direction from I-25 to I-225.

For more information on the I-70 East project, visit www.codot.gov/projects/i70east, or www.I-70east.com.

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