I-70 repaving coming to canyon
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A major resurfacing of part of Interstate 70 will force traffic to be reduced to a single lane in each direction in the western part of Glenwood Canyon this May and June.
The work also will result in some detours to provide access at interchanges affected by the construction.
The project will cost a little more than $4 million and is the first major road reconstruction to occur in the canyon since the completion of the construction of I-70 there in the early 1990s.
The Colorado Department of Transportation said in a news release Tuesday that the asphalt pavement in the canyon is starting to reach the end of its service life. This year’s work will be the first in a phased effort to replace the asphalt with longer-lasting concrete that stands up better to the harsh seasonal and geological conditions in the canyon.
The first phase will involve resurfacing eastbound I-70 from the No Name to Grizzly Creek exits. Doing so safely and quickly will require rerouting eastbound traffic onto one of the normally westbound lanes. That will result in two-way traffic from the No Name Tunnels to the Hanging Lake Tunnels in the westbound lanes of the interstate.
Although that is a detour much longer than the area that will be under construction, the tunnels are the closest feasible locations where traffic can be diverted from eastbound to westbound I-70 and back.
The project is scheduled to begin May 7 and conclude prior to the weekend before the July 4 holiday.
Concrete Works of Colorado will be handling the reconstruction. It will involve tearing up not just the asphalt but the underlying base, rebuilding the base, installing an 11-inch-thick layer of concrete and resurfacing a bridge deck with concrete.
The same company did the repaving project on Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs in 2004-05, winning kudos from the city for the quality and speed of its work. CDOT spokesperson Nancy Shanks called Concrete Works of Colorado a “fabulous contractor” and said CDOT is glad it is working on the I-70 project.
CDOT has scheduled an informational open house on the project for Wednesday, March 28, from 3-6 p.m. The meeting will be held at CDOT’s offices at 202 Centennial St. in Glenwood, across from Two Rivers Park.
Ken Murphy, general manager of Rock Gardens Rafting in No Name, said the company will be attending the open house but isn’t too worried about the roadwork impacting operations.
“We’ve been down this path before when the canyon was being built, and CDOT’s been real good about keeping the traffic flowing through there,” he said.
He said Rock Gardens didn’t have problems last year when CDOT worked on expansion joints on I-70 in the canyon.
“They’ve always been good and understanding of what we’re trying to do here,” he said.
Murphy is relieved to hear this year’s work isn’t expected to continue past July 4. He said Rock Garden’s peak season runs from about mid-June until mid-August, which means the work would result in only a few weeks of inconvenience.
“That’s nothing in the big scale of things. We can work our way around that,” he said.
Local rafting companies run trips on the Colorado River starting at the Shoshone exit, which will be affected by the construction. However, Murphy said Rock Gardens usually rafts on the Roaring Fork River rather than the Colorado until late June, when the spring runoff subsides. He said the construction may have more effect on Vail rafting companies that would be operating out of Shoshone earlier in the year.
Rafting companies operate on a tight launch schedule worked out between them and approved by the U.S. Forest Service. Murphy said it will be important for the various parties to maintain good communications during the construction.
“If we do run into some traffic jams along the way we’ll have to deal with them,” he said.
Murphy said he plans to find out more about how the work will affect access to the Shoshone exit. But he said he appreciates that CDOT is letting people know months in advance about the project so they can prepare for it and offer input.
Shanks said CDOT probably will try to do the remaining phases of reconstruction in the canyon every other year, money permitting.
The Aspen City Council directed staff to move forward with the Burlingame early childhood education center, but decided it needs more information on the affordable housing units that are part of the schematic design at a work session Monday.