DENVER (CBS4) — Drivers can expect one major, temporary closure on Interstate 70 this weekend, as well a permanent one. The closures come as crews continue work on the Central 70 Project, which includes the reconstruction of a 10-mile stretch of I-70 and demolition of a 56-year-old viaduct between Brighton and Colorado Boulevards.
The temporary closure, which starts Friday night at 10 p.m., involves both eastbound and westbound I-70 between Steele/Vasquez and I-270. The area will remain closed until 5 a.m. on Monday, June 29.
Around the same time, CDOT will also permanently close the westbound I-70 off-ramp to Steele/Vasquez. According to Central 70 Project Director Keith Stefanik, the ramp is not part of the final alignment of the project and will not be rebuilt.
“Motorists should expect on Monday morning to exit westbound Colorado, have a slight detour on southbound Colorado and then head west on 46th North Avenue, which is a newly constructed road, and then head to Steele,” Stefanik said.
According to CDOT, the closures are required to accommodate the demolition of the aging Colorado Boulevard bridge.
“We’ve built half of the new bridge, so we’re going to transfer half of Colorado on half of the new bridge,” Stefanik said.
The closures will also allow continued work on the eventual lowered section of I-70. When completed, CDOT will shift traffic to the new road and start demolition on the decades-old viaduct that drivers currently travel on.
On Tuesday, CDOT representatives showed a CBS4 crew around parts of the 2-mile-long lowered area. Currently, the westbound side is fully lowered, but there is still similar work to do on the eventual eastbound side.
“We need to finish the covered structure so we can move traffic down here safely,” said Stefanik. “We have to do fire safety, fire suppression, we need to make sure that is operational before we can move traffic down in the lower section.”
According to Stefanik, that likely won’t happen until the middle of 2021. As for the entire Central 70 Project, the goal is to finish by the end of 2022.
“We’re looking at a little bit of a delay into 2023 right now, but we have 2.5 years to mitigate that schedule and pull that forward,” said Stefanik.
One opportunity to make up ground so far has been the COVID-19 pandemic. While a safety and logistical challenge, crews were able to take advantage of having less traffic during the daytime.
“We were able to close a few lanes and take advantage of the warmer temperatures during the day, lay some asphalt, really make up some of our schedule out east,” Stefanik said. “We also did a lot of drainage improvements along Colorado and Steele.”
In a briefing to local media members Tuesday morning, Stefanik told reporters all legal challenges to the project have been resolved. He also said there are numerous resources for people living nearby to use to raise concerns about noise and dust related to construction.