CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. - After months of construction work and years of debate, a third lane is now open on eastbound Interstate 70 from the Twin Tunnels to U.S. 6.
The project, between Idaho Springs and Hidden Valley, expanded the eactbound bore and flattened out the curve at Hidden Valley. The westbound tunnel is still two lanes, because there is currently no room to expand the tunnel.
The detour around the eastbound tunnel construction project went into place in April. Over the eight month construction peroid, crews blasted and removed more than 19,700 cubic yards of rock from the 635-foot-long tunnel.
While the third lane is free for now, it will eventually become part of a toll lane project -- the "Peak Period Shoulder Lane" from Empire to Idaho Springs.
"Using the existing wide shoulder from Empire Junction through Idaho Springs, motorists will be able to travel the peak period shoulder lane by paying a toll only during peak travel times. In return, they will have a reliable travel option with consistent speeds that will save motorists an average of 30 minutes in travel time," CDOT's website for the project explained.
The peak period shoulder lane is scheduled to open to traffic in summer 2015.
"Any new capacity on congested corridors will be tolled express lanes," CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford said.