Why I-70 Is Going to Close This Weekend — for the Entire Weekend

An overhead view of Interstate 70 through the Central 70 work zone, with the bridges marked for repair numbered.
An overhead view of Interstate 70 through the Central 70 work zone, with the bridges marked for repair numbered. Colorado Department of Transportation

Ever since ground was broken on the massive Central 70 project on I-70 last August, commuters have grumbled about construction slowdowns and ancillary increases in off-highway traffic like those that have afflicted Cole and RiNo since the permanent closure of the York Street on-ramp to the westbound interstate.

Expect these complaints to be transformed into full-fledged roars of anguish after a considerable stretch of I-70 is shut down this weekend. For the entire weekend.

A single sentence on the Colorado Department of Transportation's Central 70 page sums up what's on the agenda: "Eastbound and westbound I-70 between Colorado Boulevard and I-270 will close at 10 p.m. on Friday, April 12 and reopen at 5 a.m. on Monday, April, 15." Efforts over that span will focus on the I-270 flyover that will serve as a link to eastbound I-70.

It's not like we weren't warned.

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."

Specifically, I-70 can be completely blocked four times over the course of the project, which is expected to take at least five years to complete. This is the first.

During the closures, drivers will be taken a long distance out of the way. The route around the repairs will utilize Interstate 25, Interstate 76 and Interstate 270, as seen in the CDOT graphic below.

click to enlarge The detour put in place for Interstate 70 this weekend through the Central 70 work zone. - COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
The detour put in place for Interstate 70 this weekend through the Central 70 work zone.
Colorado Department of Transportation
That's not all. According to Region 1 communications manager Tamara Rollison, the missions set before CDOT and ABCO Contracting beginning in April include the repair of twelve bridges at the I-25/I-76 and I-25/I-70 interchanges. The idea is to mitigate potential structural deficiency in 111,000 square feet of bridge.

The bridges through the work zone are numbered in the photo at the top of the post. Here's the key:

1. I-76 eastbound over ramp to I-25 southbound
2. I-76 westbound over ramp to I-25 southbound
3. I-76 eastbound over ramp to I-25 northbound
4. I-76 westbound over ramp to I-25 northbound
5. I-76 eastbound ramp of I-25 northbound over ramp to I-25 southbound
6. I-76 eastbound ramp to I-25 northbound over Broadway
7. I-76 eastbound over Broadway
8. I-76 westbound over Broadway
9. I-25 southbound ramp to I-76 westbound over Broadway
10. I-76 eastbound ramp to I-25 southbound over Broadway
11. Access road over ramp to I-25 northbound
12. I-70 eastbound and I-25 southbound ramp to I-70 eastbound/Washington Street

This work begins during the middle of this month and is scheduled to continue through October 2019. Crews will be on hand Sunday through Thursday from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

Among the things commuters can expect will be full lane closures for bridges 5 and 6, as well as 10 through 12, with reopenings by 5:30 a.m., plus detours and assorted on- and off-ramp lane and shoulder closures. Signs and automated signals will redirect traffic during construction efforts.

Lane closures and the like will be posted a week ahead of time on, with information also available via the Central 70 hotline, 720-220-1398.

One more thing: The project isn't slated to be finished until 2022. So the fun has only begun.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts