With I-70 project in Denver starting, route to DIA and east will be challenge

Jon Murray
The Denver Post
Crews work on the relocation of the playground Swansea Elementary before the Interstate 70 expansion project begins on July 24, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. The project is expected to cost $1.2 billion, last up to four years (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)
RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post

Commuters who rely on Interstate 70 northeast of downtown Denver are still two years from the most jarring moment of the highway’s $1.2 billion expansion project.

That’s when the Grim Reaper will come for the crumbling 54-year-old viaduct between Brighton and Colorado boulevards, the focus of the most intensive work. The first of two major traffic shifts for all six lanes will send cars and trucks to the bottom of a massive, mostly open-air trench that crews will dig in the meantime alongside the old viaduct.

The milestone will mark just the midpoint of I-70’s four-year widening project, with more digging to be done once the viaduct is out of the way. By the end, the entire project will reconstruct a larger portion of I-70 between Interstate 25 and Chambers Road and add a new tolled express lane in each direction along that 10-mile stretch.

But get ready: Construction officially starts in the coming week.

After 15 years of detailed planning, heated debates about whether to re-route I-70, combative lawsuits and still-persistent concerns about environmental impacts, the Central 70 project soon will become as ever-present for commuters as the Denver metro area’s last major urban freeway overhaul — the Transportation Expansion Project, known as T-REX. Finished in 2006, that project overhauled and widened southeast Interstate 25 from Broadway to the suburbs and also installed the southeast light-rail line.

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