Busy construction season in valley looming
General road information: http://www.cotrip.org.
Vail underpass information: cdot.gov/projectsi70vailunderpass, or call 970-685-7706
The Colorado Department of Transportation also maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts that are updated regularly
Motorists can also sign up for email alerts using a button on the bottom of the cotrip.org main page.
EAGLE COUNTY — One of the oldest cliches about life in the high country is the one about our two seasons — winter and construction. That old adage will be especially true this year.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has a long to-do list between the top of Vail Pass and Glenwood Springs. Most of the projects will last a matter of weeks, or a few months, but there are a couple of whoppers. Here’s a look at what’s going to slow you down in the coming weeks and months.
• The one that will affect the most locals and valley visitors is an underpass project in Vail. That $30 million project, first announced in 2013, will connect the North and South Frontage roads in Vail at a spot roughly halfway between the Main Vail and West Vail Interstate 70 interchanges.
The project includes the construction of two new bridges and a lot of excavation. Work begins in earnest April 4 and should be complete by late November of 2017. In the meantime, interstate drivers will often be driving head to head in either the east- or westbound lanes. Frontage road traffic will be delayed and diverted in several ways.
There’s a project website, and Colorado Department of Transportation spokewsoman Tracy Trulove recommended that local residents in particular would benefit from signing up for email alerts.
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• The other very big project in the region is the replacement of the Grand Avenue Bridge in Glenwood Springs. That job will also stretch into 2017. Given that many Eagle and Gypsum residents take frequent trips to the west, having that project website bookmarked is probably a good idea.
In other Glenwood-related road work news, repairs to the westbound lanes of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon should continue another several weeks, but no summer projects in the canyon are on the calendar.
In addition to the big projects, there’s a good bit of other work to do during construction season. Here’s a look at the ones being done by the state:
• If not for the underpass project, then rebuilding the I-70 truck chain station in East Vail might be the biggest single construction job in the valley this year.
That work, between mile markers 178 and 179 along eastbound I-70, will expand the current chain-up area, and includes the construction of new retaining walls and will add lighting to the area.
Work will begin April 11, the day after Vail Mountain closes. The chain-up station will be closed beginning in May.
According to information from the Colorado Department of Transportation, the work will narrow the frontage road in the area, and will narrow the north shoulder of the interstate. A bike path detour will be in place, too.
Work is expected to be finished by the time Vail Mountain re-opens in November.
• Barrier work on the interstate along six miles of Vail Pass is another big project. That job is expected to last into 2017 since winter work is particularly difficult at higher elevations.
Work will include replacing bridge railings and other barriers between mile marker 180 and 186. Work will require lanes to be narrowed and shifted in spots. Lane closures won’t be allowed when more than 900 vehicles per hour are using the road.
Work begins in May, depending on the weather.
• More work needs to be done on the I-70 bridges at Eagle-Vail. That work will include rehabilitation and deck repairs to the westbound bridge, and will include a crossover lane and head-to-head traffic in the eastbound lanes.
Work will begin in early April and is expected to last until mid-June.
• Work on several miles of wildlife fencing shouldn’t affect interstate traffic, but miles of new fencing will be built.
The longest stretch is between mile marker 131 and 140, roughly between Dotsero and Gypsum. The highway between Avon and Dowd Junction will also be fenced. All the fencing will include ramps, escape routes for animals that do get into the highway corridor.
Work will begin this summer and continues into 2018. Winter weather will limit work on the stretch from Avon to Dowd Junction.
• Off the interstate, the state will replace a bridge in Edwards, the one over Lake Creek along U.S. Highway 6. The existing bridge will be removed, and a temporary, two-lane detour will be built to the north of the roadway. The speed limit will drop from 45 mph to 35 mph.
The contractor will be on site this month, but the detour is expected to last between June and September. The project is expected to be finished in November.
• Minturn won’t escape this year’s construction bounty. A culvert that channels Cross Creek beneath U.S. Highway 24 will be replaced. The project will also widen the highway, allowing construction of a turn lane onto Cross Creek Road.
The job will require delays, as only one lane will be open during construction. Work begins this summer and expected to last into October.
In Minturn, that can mean this construction season might merge seamlessly into winter.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org or @scottnmiller.