Grumbles about construction slowdowns and ramp closures that have been heard since the massive Central 70 project officially broke ground in August 2018 got considerably louder last month, when the interstate was closed for an entire weekend, necessitating a detour along the route that opponents who want to "Ditch the Ditch" would like to see become permanent.
The problem was exacerbated by what some drivers felt was iffy communication by the Colorado Department of Transportation about the size and scope of the inconvenience.
Now, CDOT is planning to shut down the highway again, for three nights this week — Tuesday, May 21, through Thursday, May 23. But this time, the highway messaging has been better, and maps provided by the department that are on view below are intended to give commuters a better idea about what to do when they aren't allowed to continue on their usual way.
By the way, the late spring storm that's led to dozens of cancelled flights at Denver International Airport this morning doesn't appear to have put the kibosh on the closure. As of 6:45 a.m., CDOT's project hotline (720-572-4475, ex. 6) states that the shutdown will take place as planned.
Granted, the department has spent more than a year letting us know to expect this kind of thing.
For our April 2018 post "How Freaked Out Commuters Should Be About Start of Central 70 Project," Rebecca White, Central 70's communications director, told us, "One of the major restrictions we put on the contractor with this project is that because Interstate 70 is an economic backbone for the state, they can't close any lanes during daylight hours. Up until 7 p.m., they have to keep three lanes running in either direction." However, this reference was to weekdays. White added that its contractors "have only a set number of weekend and overnight full closures."
The latest overnight closure is necessitated by repair of the bridge over Washington Street. According to Tamara Rollison, CDOT's Region 1 communication manager, the goal of the project is to "repair aging infrastructure, which improves safety for motorists and reduces wear and tear on vehicles and vehicle maintenance costs."
The closure at Washington Street begins at 8 p.m. on the 21st, with all lanes reopening by 5 a.m. for the morning rush hour. This time frame will be repeated on the 22nd and 23rd.
Here are four ways to get around the closure:
Eastbound I-70 detour:
The recommended route will take drivers east on 46th Avenue.
Northbound Washington detour:
CDOT advises drivers to take Brighton Boulevard north of the highway, then turn east on East 47th Avenue until they reach Washington again.
Southbound Washington detour:
Drivers who would ordinarily drive south on Washington past the interstate should instead head east on East 47th Avenue before turning right at 44th Street, headed toward Brighton Boulevard.
Southbound semi-truck Washington detour:
Truckers who would normally turn southbound on Washington Street will be detoured onto westbound I-70 via the Pecos Street exit, then back onto eastbound I-70, as seen in the graphic above.
Over the course of the three nights in question, CDOT crews are scheduled to install hydraulic jacks in order to "lift and replace the bridge-bearing components," Rollison reveals.
Similar efforts are expected to take place regularly over the course of Central 70. A total of nine bridges are earmarked for repair.
Lane closures and the like are posted a week ahead of time on COTrip.org, with information also available via the Central 70 hotline, 720-220-1398.
The project isn't slated to be finished until 2022 — and that's only an estimate. It could take longer...
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