Overnight tunnel closures begin Monday in Summit | VailDaily.com

Overnight tunnel closures begin Monday in Summit

Daily staff report
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SUMMIT COUNTY — Overnight closures at the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels are scheduled to begin Monday to test the fire suppression systems installed in 2015 as a part of the $20 million Fixed Fire Suppression System project to improve safety at the tunnels.

The westbound tunnel will be closed overnight from Monday through Thursday. The eastbound tunnel will be closed overnight from July 18 through July 21. Closures will be in effect from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night and drivers will be detoured over Loveland Pass.

There will also be a right lane closure at the north tunnel on Sunday, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and a right lane closure at the south tunnel July 17, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Regular occurrence

Once per year, 20 percent of the water valves will be opened to test the fire suppression system. Testing will continue in zones until 100 percent of the valves have been tested for approval according to the five-year maintenance requirements and warranty of the contractor. After five years, all of the valves will be exercised and the testing can start over. Testing must be done to make sure a valve has not corroded and will be effective in case of an emergency. Testing requirements will continue throughout the 30-year expected life of the system.

In accordance with the Federal Highway Administration, testing of the fire suppression system must also be done to adhere to the manual of tunnel operations maintenance inspection and evaluation.

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Maintenance and inspections

Aside from sprinkler testing, tunnel staff will also take advantage of the full night closures to perform maintenance and inspection work on lighting, water, roadway and structural elements of the tunnels. Because 20 percent of the sprinkler zones will be turned on, spraying water over both lanes while technicians are conducting tests, each tunnel needs to be completely closed.

The fire suppression system allows the remote release of water, if needed, without people having to enter the tunnels.

For more information on this project, please visit www.codot.gov/projects/EisenhowerFireSystem.