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April 7, 2013
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Construction season will be busy in the Vail Valley

EAGLE COUNTY - It would be wise to have a water bottle and a couple of granola bars in the car before setting off from here to just about anywhere. There's road construction, and plenty of it, in this part of the high country this year.

Interstate 70 is the Vail Valley's main street, and there's a lot of work going on this year. Here's a look at some of the Colorado Department of Transportation's major projects:

Twin Tunnels

This is by far the biggest of the state's projects in the I-70 corridor through the mountains, and will cause the most trouble. The project will add another lane to eastbound I-70 from roughly Idaho Springs to the western base of Floyd Hill. That's going to require an expansion of one bore of the Twin Tunnels just east of Idaho Springs. That, in turn, is going to require blasting, and quite a bit of it. And blasting will require traffic delays.

Blasting schedules will be announced the night before triggering any explosives, so those headed to or from Denver should check into the several information sources the department has set up.

"We're trying to get as much information as possible out there," department spokeswoman Ashley Mohr said.

Delay potential: Not much on the weekends, but expect to sit for a while on any given weekday.

Fiber optic cable

Starting this summer, the department will be laying fiber optic cable from Vail to the Hanging Lake Tunnel command center in Glenwood Canyon. That project will usually work off the roadway, but crews will be near the roadside, so drivers can expect "men working" signs and lowered speed limits.

Mohr said the project will connect the control centers at the Eisenhower-Johnson tunnels and the Hanging Lake tunnels. The system will also put more than 100 weather sensors along the roadway. Those sensors will measure everything from temperature to humidity to wind speed.

The idea, Mohr said, is to put more and better information on the variable message signs along the interstate. The sensors will also help road crews plan de-icing and other maintenance.

Delay potential: Low.

Glenwood Canyon paving

About six miles of eastbound I-70 is being resurfaced right now, with a stretch of westbound traffic turned into two-way traffic. The speed limit has been reduced to 40 mph through most of the stretch.

Delay potential: Add an extra five or 10 minutes to your trip, unless you're driving something more than 12 feet wide. In that case, you're facing a long detour.

Dotsero bridge

This is on the frontage road, but the department is building a new bridge over the Colorado River and adding a roundabout to the intersection of the frontage road and the Colorado River Road.

Delay potential: Low.

Edwards to Eagle paving

Work starts today on a 12-mile stretch of I-70 between Edwards and Eagle. While work will slow during peak traffic times in the morning and afternoon, the speed limit will be dropped to 40 mph through the work zone, and delays are possible.

The trip may affect ECO Transit service between the lower and upper valleys, and long-distance commuters may need to take an earlier bus.

"We're just playing by ear right now," said Joe Kelly, of the transit service. "We'll just have to see how it unfolds."

Kelly said long delays could prompt buses to move to U.S. Highway 6, but that move can sometimes take more time if other traffic is also on that stretch of road.

Delay potential: With lowered speed limit and traffic slowdowns possible, downvalley commuters should add 20 minutes to their travel schedules, just to be sure.

Eagle roundabouts

This is the big one for most residents. A joint project of the state transportation department and the town of Eagle, the work will snarl traffic on the main way into and out of Eagle from June of this year until November of next year. The end result will be five new or newly-renovated roundabouts.

Delay potential: Did you use the restroom before you started?

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Apr 7, 2013 11:01PM Published Apr 7, 2013 10:59PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.