I-70 Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel to see partial, full closures this summer

Detour will reroute drivers over Loveland Pass

Vehicles drive inside the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. This summer, the tunnel and the area surrounding it will receive upgrades from the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

The Colorado Department has begun its multi-project revamp of Interstate 70, and the area around Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel will receive significant upgrades.

This will include repaving between Silverthorne and the tunnel, a structure replacement just west of the tunnel and infrastructure upgrades to the tunnel itself.

Traffic counts for the Eisenhower Tunnel show that each month of 2022 so far has had at least 900,000 vehicles travel through the tunnel.
Colorado Department of Transportation/Courtesy image

Infrastructure improvements

Infrastructure upgrades will disrupt commutes as construction is expected to continue throughout 2022. During this project overnight lane closures and full closures of the tunnel are expected.

Presley Fowler, communications director for Region 1 of CDOT, said in an email that when those happen, traffic will detour around the tunnel using Loveland Pass.

Repaving west of the tunnel

According to a travel-advisory notice from CDOT, work to repave just west of the tunnels began May 2 along the east and westbound lanes of I-70. From mile marker 206 in Silverthorne to mile point 212, construction will include asphalt overlay, repairing the end transition rails and bridge rails, installing a new guardrail and culvert installation. Bridge rail work is expected to last two weeks.

“Motorists should anticipate traffic impacts during daytime and nighttime hours,” the advisory reads. “Work is not planned for Fridays, Saturday or Sundays, though occasional limited work may be necessary. The project is anticipated to be complete by the end of October 2022.”

Specifically, motorists should plan for eastbound and westbound single lane closures or reduced-speed zones. Daytime work will be from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

This project is expected to add 10 years of life to this portion of the interstate and provide a smoother road surface for drivers. The new guardrail will be 31 inches high to meet new safety requirements. The former standard for guardrails was 27 inches.

I-70 Structure replacement at “the box”

This project aims to replace a single-lane concrete box culvert, a type of drainage structure, which was built in the late 1960s during the original construction of I-70. Located 2.6 miles west of the tunnel, this project began last year. From May until September, two westbound and all three eastbound lanes will be open.

This month, crews will resume the long-term closure of the far right lane of westbound I-70. This lane will be closed to the public but will serve as an emergency pull-off for emergency services. This lane closure will remain in place throughout project completion, which is slated for this fall. There will also be reduced speed on the interstate for this project, from 60 mph to 50.

Across the state, construction continues

CDOT released its summer 2022 planning guide, which details all of the larger construction projects the department plans on doing on I-70’s mountain corridor.

The eastern section starts in Frisco with the auxiliary lane project that will expand the eastbound lanes between the 203 Exit to the 205 Exit in Silverthorne. For that project, most of the delays will happen at Exit 205’s interchange — with some lane closures happening underneath the interstate overnight until early July and a single-lane closures happening on the interstate itself.

In total, travelers on the east side of the corridor will drive through or next to nine projects starting in Frisco heading toward the Front Range. For travelers on the western portion from Vail Pass to Grand Junction, CDOT has seven overall projects, but Glenwood Canyon will have multiple throughout the summer. If the canyon is closed for safety for more than two hours, motorists should plan to find an alternate route.

Like last year, long Glenwood Canyon closures will likely take travelers up and around to bypass it. For westbound drivers, they will go from the Denver metro area on I-70 to Silverthorne, then turn north onto Colorado Highway 9. In Kremmling, travelers should turn onto westbound U.S. 40 toward Steamboat Springs. After reaching Craig, motorists can return south via Colorado Highway 13 toward Meeker. Access to I-70 westbound is at Rifle.

“CDOT is going to be making a lot of much-needed safety and mobility improvements along the I-70 Mountain Corridor this summer, but drivers can be assured our teams have carefully coordinated across the state to minimize traffic impacts,” CDOT executive director Shoshana Lew said in a statement. “Still, summer travel through the high county on I-70 is always busy, so it is always best to plan ahead and be prepared for changing conditions.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.