Vail Pass widening project pushed back to August
Originally expected to start in June, more info on project will be forthcoming
The large project to add an auxiliary lane to Vail Pass is still on track to begin this summer, albeit a bit later than projected.
Vail Pass made headlines about a year ago when a $60.7 million federal grant (along with a tweet from then-President Donald Trump), secured the project’s future; the grant will cover more than 40% of the $140.4 million required to construct the eastbound auxiliary lane between mile markers 180 and 190 in Eagle County.
At that time, construction on the new lane was expected to begin in June, but motorists can now expect to see a start date sometime in August, said Elise Thatcher with the Colorado Department of Transportation.
“Construction impacts we’re probably not going to know for another six weeks,” Thatcher said.
Kiewit Corp. has been selected to construct the new lane.
“We won’t know traffic impacts until about two weeks out,” Thatcher said. “Work this year includes the truck escape ramp at westbound mile point 182.5, which will be completed this year. Minor work will also commence this summer for the highway closure system at westbound mile point 190, with the system completed in 2022. More significant construction will occur between 2022-24.”
Large, multi-year project
The eastbound auxiliary lane is the first phase of a plan titled “I-70 West Vail Pass Auxiliary Lanes,” which seeks to add auxiliary lanes both eastbound and westbound, as well as the widening of inside shoulders and reconstruction of tight curves between mile markers 180 and 190 in Eagle County.
In addition to the the eastbound auxiliary lane, the $140 million first phase of the project includes a reconstruction of the eastbound bridge over Polk Creek, shoulder widening, eastbound and westbound curve modifications, reconstruction of a truck ramp, dynamic message signs, a variable speed limit system, wildlife crossings, automated anti-icing technologies and the relocation of two miles of the recreation path which is currently next to I-70.
The cost of the total project, including the westbound auxiliary lane, has not yet been disclosed on the project website or in press materials.
Thatcher said the $5 billion transportation bill under consideration in the Colorado Legislature will not affect funding for the I-70 West Vail Pass Auxiliary Lanes project.