EAGLE COUNTY — If you’ve been on U.S. Highway 6 or Interstate 70 lately, then you’ve probably noticed the construction — it’s difficult not to. Several major road projects are underway across the county, which means that drivers are bound to have noticed lane merges, rough patches of road, stop-and-go traffic and delays.
The good news is that when the projects are finished later this fall, drivers will see smoother roads and safer bridges.
“Some of these roads are well due for resurfacing,” said Colorado Department of Transportation communications officer Tracy Trulove, adding that construction season in the mountains is often concentrated within a few months. “That’s the unique situation of construction season in Colorado. You have a short window, and sometimes there are longer term impacts for folks. But the good thing is we go get it done in a few months, and then we’re out of there.”
Until then, here’s a list of the projects going on in the upper valley and what drivers can expect for the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, work continues on Eagle’s roundabouts and the I-70 interchange, and the westbound lanes of Glenwood Canyon are down to one lane for paving and bridge repair work.
I-70 through East Vail
What they’re doing: Crews are repaving the eastbound I-70 climbing lanes on Vail pass between mile marker 178.7 and 215.5, which have big ruts from winter conditions and vehicle use. Crews will remove and replace the top 2 inches of asphalt in over 10 miles in the right lane. They will also replace barriers, re-stripe the lanes and reinforce some of the drainage under the interstate. The new asphalt will level the highway, creating a smoother driving surface for travelers.
“This section of I-70 is one of the most challenging and heavily traveled highways in the state, bearing a tremendous amount of wear and tear,” said CDOT resident engineer Grant Anderson. “These improvements should provide significant safety benefits for the coming winter season.”
How long: The project is expected to finish by the end of October.
Impacts: Work will be done Mondays through Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Drivers can expect one lane going eastbound and lower speed limits.
Frontage Roads in Vail
What they’re doing: As part of another CDOT project, all of Vail’s frontage roads are getting repaved. Also, all of the curbs along the road will be upgraded to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Currently, they’re on the South Frontage Road between the West Vail interchange and Forest Lane. From Sept. 14-19, crews will be doing night work to repave the four Vail roundabouts. Guardrails along the frontage roads will also get repairs.
How long: The frontage roads will be re-striped and repaved by the first or second week of October.
Impacts: Expect single-lane closures (one lane for alternating two-way traffic), flaggers and general delays. Drivers trying to get across Vail can take I-70 instead to avoid stops.
I-70 bridge improvements in Eagle-Vail
What they’re doing: CDOT is repairing the I-70 bridge near mile marker 168.7 where the bridge crosses both Highway 6 and the Eagle River. Work includes girder repair, bridge deck repair and repaving.
How long: The project is supposed to finish in early October.
Impacts: The westbound right lane of Highway 6 will be closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The adjacent bike and pedestrian path will be closed intermittently as construction equipment is moved.
US Highway 6 between Edwards and Avon
What they’re doing: Crews are now paving Highway 6 from Avon to Edwards. The repaving is part of a bigger project that includes new pavement through Avon, ADA ramps, bus pullout improvements and the installation of storm-water drainage pipes. Beginning the first week of September, crews will start paving at night as well.
How long: The project is halfway complete and will be finished by the end of September.
Impacts: For night paving, there will be alternating lane closures from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m., with flaggers directing one-lane traffic. Normal construction hours are Mondays through Thursdays from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 6 a.m. to noon. Work zone speed limits are 30 mph. Take I-70 if possible to avoid delays.
SAFETY ON THE ROADS
Heavy rains have hampered some of the work. Some work can be done in the rain, but road paving requires specific conditions.
“We often get delayed with the rain,” Trulove said. “We’re always battling temperatures in the mountains. You get to the point where it’s too cold for the surface to adhere and bond. That’s why deadlines often get pushed into October.”
On Tuesday, several people were injured and hospitalized in a four-vehicle accident in the East Vail construction area on I-70. Witnesses said the driver of a van initiated a chain reaction when she drove into the back of slow-moving vehicles nearing a lane merge in the construction zone.
Trulove emphasized the importance of paying attention and observing the slow zones.
“The biggest thing we want people to know is that we set the speed limit to keep the work zone safe for everyone, both drivers and workers,” she said. “People are so distracted these days that it’s pretty scary for our crews, with people flying through there. Please observe the speed limits because we post them for a reason.”
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.