I-70 could be fully open by Sunday | VailDaily.com

I-70 could be fully open by Sunday

Christine Ina Casillas
Workers move jersey barriers on Interstate 70 in Vail preparing to open all lanes to motorists. Repair work at the site of the June, 1 sinkhole is near completion, and the interstate is scheduled to be completely open Sunday.

Interstate 70 could open to two lanes today, and the entire highway could be open within a week, say state transportation officials.

“If we can get two lanes in each direction, it will take about two weeks for the rest of the repairs,” Stacey Stegman, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said Friday.

“There will be almost no shoulders for travelers, but the highway will be open to two-lane traffic,” added Ina Zisman, engineer for the project with the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Crews have been working around the clock for days to repair the damages from a damaged culvert under the highway, which resulted in a 22-foot-wide sinkhole in the westbound lanes. A 24-mile stretch of the highway was closed for about five days when swollen Bighorn Creek washed out the culvert, flooded homes in East Vail homes and damaging two streets, Columbine Drive and Spruce Way.

The eastbound lanes were converted to one lane in both directions last week to keep interstate traffic moving along smoothly, Stegman said.

Transportation officials then switched traffic to the westbound lanes in order to tear up the eastbound lanes and begin work under the roadway to replace the underground culvert. That work is expected to be completed today.

Traffic, meanwhile, remains slowed to 35 mph through the work area, Zisman said. Work crews are working on the middle of the interstate, too, to complete the repairs.

“Unless something drastic happens, we expect to have those lanes open soon,” Zisman said.

Working nonstop

Stegman said construction workers had been working nonstop to make sure the highway is safe for travelers.

“Our goal is to make sure our guys don’t have to work a 24-hour operation anymore,” Stegman said. “They’ll be able to start on regular work shifts. They are exhausted.”

About 28 homes were hit with debris and flooding damages from the culvert. Some of the homeowners experienced minor damages to their carpets, others severed damages to their basements.

“The construction is ongoing,” said Jamie Wilson, community information officer for Vail.

Vail has sent out a request out for bids on construction repairs for the roads damaged along the interstate, such as Bighorn Road, Columbine Drive and Spruce Way.

“It’s a hit or miss situation now,” Wilson said.

Sinkhole situations

In Summit County, heavy trucks heading west on I-70 through the Eisenhower Tunnel were rerouted Thursday after crews discovered gaps in the soil under the highway on the tunnel’s west side.

Trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds were diverted to Loveland Pass to avoid creating the kind of sinkhole that closed I-70 in East Vail, Stegman said.

Crews tried to stabilize the highway and divert water from a creek so they could inspect the pipe.

The transportation department has been checking more culverts along the interstate after floodwaters washed out the culvert a mile east of Vail.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at ccasillas@vaildaily.com.

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