Jul 1, 2020 -- Posted by : goi70

Earlier this month, CDOT announced that it had won a $60.7 million federal, Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant to go towards I-70 improvements. The project that the grant will be supporting is the ‘I-70 West Vail Pass Auxiliary Lanes,’ that will be built on the west side of Vail Pass, between MP 180 and 190 in Eagle County. This project is an essential piece of I-70’s long term plan, and has been studied periodically since 2006. Vail Pass – which was completed in 1979 – has struggled to keep up with Colorado’s traffic while also continuing to serve as a vital connection through our state, and as part of our country’s essential interstate network. It has experienced considerable wear and tear and has also been home to the highest crash rate for all of I-70 (with 558 crashes from 2014 to 2016). The project will aim to reduce frequency of accidents and save taxpayers money by helping to prevent expensive detours; (the estimated economic impact for every hour of I-70’s closure is $1 million).

Construction will take place over a 10 mile stretch and will include the following:


·       EB third auxiliary lane (MP 185 through 190)

·       Curve reconstruction (MP 186 and 188)

·       Wildlife underpasses and wildlife fences (MP186 and 188)

·       Water quality improvements, including a Sediment Control Action Plan

·       Bridge reconstruction (Polk Creek)

·       Lower truck ramp reconstructions

·       Anti-icing system on the bridge (MP 185)

·       Technology improvements including electronic messaging signs and variable speed limits


CDOT applied for the INFRA grant in coordination with the Colorado mountain region’s local transportation planning organizations. The funding (and all of the components stated above) will be part of Phase 1 of the ‘I-70 West Vail Pass Auxiliary Lanes’ project. While the total project is estimated to cost between $500 and $700 million, the cost for Phase 1 is estimated to be $140.4 million. CDOT will match $79.7 million in state dollars with the $60.7 million (representing 43% of the project’s cost) that they will be receiving form the federal government.


Receiving funding for this project is a major milestone in the context of I-70’s future. Here are the thoughts that state leaders shared publicly about the project:

United States Senator, Michael Bennet

·       “I-70 and Vail Pass in particular serve as an important gateway to outdoor recreation like hiking, biking, and skiing, and as a vital connector for trucks and freight movement. I’m glad USDOT has awarded CDOT this grant to make important safety upgrades and reduce the number of closures of West Vail Pass due to inclement weather and vehicle crashes. This $60.7 million grant is welcome news for Eagle and Summit Counties, and all who travel on I-70 to access outdoor recreation and our mountain communities.”

United States Senator, Cory Gardner

·       “Interstate 70 is an important economic driver in our state, but I’ve heard from countless Coloradans who are frustrated with congestion, unsafe driving conditions, and frequent closures due to weather events. That is why I advocated for this funding to improve I-70 and am proud to have helped secure this grant of more than $60 million to improve the infrastructure that millions of Coloradans rely on. This funding will help facilitate improvements aimed at reducing the number of road closures and delays, making commutes more reliable and greatly improving the quality of life for the Western Slope.”

U.S. Representative, Joe Neguse

·       “I-70 is a key economic driver in the State of Colorado and a gateway to the recreation and tourism opportunities in Summit and Eagle Counties and mountain communities across the 2nd Congressional District. However, we know too well that West Vail Pass is prone to closures due to weather events, as well as spin outs and crashes. Investments in safety and reliability in the I-70 corridor is essential to keep Coloradans safe and to continue to connect travelers east and west of the Continental Divide. I am grateful to see funding awarded to these projects, and look forward to continuing to advocate for Colorado’s highways and safety.” 

CDOT Executive Director, Shoshana Lew

·       “We appreciate the support of our Congressional delegation in helping us to secure funding for this tremendously important project — critical for commuters, travelers and the safe passage of freight through our beautiful I-70 mountain corridor. One of the core strategies of our state’s transportation plan is to focus investments on key arteries that move people and goods through our economy, like I-70. This grant will help us achieve that vision.”


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