Overnight closures scheduled July 9-12 at the Eisenhower/Johnson tunnels
SUMMIT COUNTY — Overnight closures at the Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnels on Interstate 70 are scheduled to begin July 9. Crews will 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 July 9 from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The eastbound tunnel will be closed overnight July 10 from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Motorists will be detoured over Loveland Pass.
There also will be a left-lane closure at the westbound tunnel July 11 from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and a left-lane closure at the eastbound tunnel on July 12 from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
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.
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 Federal Highway Administration regulations, fire-suppression system testing must also be done to adhere to the Tunnel Operations Maintenance Inspection and Evaluation Manual.
Aside from the 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.
For more information on this project, go to http://www.codot.gov/projects/eisenhowerfiresystem. For information on I-70 travel conditions, http://www.visitcotrip.org, download the CDOT Mobile app, sign up for GovDelivery or call 511.
Paul Cuthbertson set out by himself around 3 p.m. Friday from the trailhead that leads up to the Polar Star Inn, according to his father, Mike, but never made it to the popular backcountry hut as a late-spring snowstorm moved in.