Vail Pass repaving starts soon |

Vail Pass repaving starts soon

Matt Zalaznick

Repaving of Interstate 70 from East Vail to the summit of Vail Pass should begin later this month, a transportation official says.

The aging, weather-beaten highway has drawn complaints from some drivers who travel the pass regularly and the Colorado Department of Transportation will spend $6 million this fall to make the ride smoother.

Crews this week have been removing the top 2 inches of old asphalt to prepare for the work, says Ina Zeisman, a department of transportation engineer.

Crews will be shutting down one lane at a time while the work is performed in the 10-mile stretch; work should continue until winter, she says.

“If anything is leftover, it will be left for next spring, depending on the weather,” she says.

Throughout the summer, transportation crews have been installing basins to catch the highway traction sand that spills off the interstate in the winter time. The sand is used in huge amounts to keep the highway from freezing during winter storms, but the substance also is blamed for polluting Black Gore Creek, which flows from the summit of the pass to East Vail.

A recent study found the agency would have to spend $20 million to keep most of the sand from leaking into Vail Pass lakes and creeks.

While various agencies have begun seeking the funding, the transportation department and a local environmental group, the Eagle River Watershed Council, have been designing and building smaller pollution-prevention projects. The town of Vail and the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District have contributed to those projects.

The $20 million price-tag, however, does not include cleaning up the tons of sand already piled up on hillsides and clogging stretches of the creek.

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at

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