World’s highest tunnel and a great lake
Editor’s note: Dick Hauserman is well known as one of the founders of Vail. But he also has made the trip from Denver to Vail in excess of 1,000 times, which was the inspiration for his book “On the Road to Vail and Beyond” published earlier this year. Following is an excerpt from the book aimed at making frequent I-70 travelers say “Oh, I didn’t know that!”The Eisenhower Tunnel Instead of waiting for you to say, “Oh, I didn’t know that,” why not have me start with, “Did you know!” The Eisenhower Tunnel is the highest vehicular tunnel in the world. At an altitude of 11,158 feet, the tunnel is at the heart of Interstate 70, Colorado’s lifeline.Construction on the tunnel started March 15, 1968. It was to be a three-year project. Three years? So went the theory. Naturally, there were obstacles. The 11,158-foot elevation lowered the efficiency of both men and machines, winter shortened the outside working season, the mountain wasn’t cooperative, unprecedented stress showed up where theory dictated otherwise, and new methods were needed and developed.
It was another case where fact and theory had to be reconciled. Doubters scoffed, believers toiled. Sound familiar? But then there were no second-guessers or Monday morning quarterbacks. It took five years of soul-searching, back-breaking and budget-busting, but the believers won in the end, and we benefit as a result. As one highway engineer put it, “We were going by the book, but the damned mountain couldn’t read.” Thomas Carlyle said, “Every noble work is at first impossible.” The Tunnel was originally designed as a twin bore tunnel. Construction on the westbound bore (North Tunnel) began March 15, 1968 and was completed five years later on March 8, 1973. This bore was originally called the Straight Creek Tunnel, and later was officially named the Eisenhower Memorial Bore. Construction on the second bore began August 18, 1975 and was completed four years later on December 21, 1979. After 12 years of construction, the task that seemed impossible to some and improbable to others was accomplished. Twenty years ago, on an average day, more than 8,000 vehicles would use the tunnels. That figure is now 20,000.
The monorail idea might also become a reality.How the Water Reaches Denver: The Roberts Tunnel
Dillon Reservoir is the largest water-storage facility for the Denver metropolitan area. The water is transported under the Continental Divide through the Roberts Tunnel. One of the world’s longest tunnels, it was started on June 24, 1946 and completed in September 1963. It is 23.3 miles long and extends from Lake Dillon under the Continental Divide to its east portal in Grant, Colorado. It was an engineering feat unparalleled at the time. The cost was more than $50 million. What a brave and farsighted decision by the Denver Water Board. Originally, it was referred to as the Montezuma Tunnel. The bore was renamed the Harold D. Roberts Tunnel in honor of Roberts spearheading the decision to supply the water for Denver’s rapidly growing population.Vail, Colorado
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