In June of this past summer, CDOT was awarded a $60.7 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant to go towards the I-70 West Vail Pass Auxiliary Lanes project that will be built on the west side of Vail Pass, between MM 180 and MM 190 in Eagle County. We are happy to announce that this past week, the project hit another major milestone!
CDOT released the Environmental Assessment (EA) and Section 4(f) Evaluation plans, which outline the actions/improvements of the project; and consider the project’s benefits, impacts, and the proposed mitigation for any environmental or community consequences. Following the completion of the plans last week, a 30-day public review period began, during which the public is able to access the plans and submit comments for CDOT’s consideration. Typically, there would be public events/meetings, though due to COVID-19 related restrictions on gatherings, the public engagement process is going virtual. The plans can be accessed here, and comments can be made by selecting the Comment & Join Mailing List tab on bottom of the left column. Printed copies are also available at the Vail Public Library and the Town of Vail Administration Office. This period lasts until October 21, and we hope that everyone interested checks out the project docs!
The public review of these plans marks the final stages of a planning process that began during late 2017! Following the 30-day public review (and assuming no significant not yet understood impacts are found during the public review process), the project will move toward a decision document – and design will then be finalized, a contractor will be selected, and construction will begin.
Construction of the West Vail Pass Aux Lanes project will take place over a 10 mile stretch and 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
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). This project is an essential piece of I-70’s long term plan and its success is among the highest priority for the I-70 Coalition and all I-70 Mountain Corridor stakeholders!
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