Short-term improvements for I-70 begin as long-term plans continue to form

In a month, work to widen one of I-70's worst bottlenecks will begin. It'll relieve some of the traffic by the next ski season, but the Colorado Department of Transportation is continuing to form plans for long-term solutions.

There will be working around-the-clock 6-days a week through next November to expand eastbound I-70 from Idaho Springs to Floyd Hill, including the eastbound side of the Twin Tunnels.

"We will be widening the existing tunnel from a two lane with no shoulders to a three lane shouldered facility," CDOT Regional Transportation Director Tony DeVito said.

Bill Black owns a condo in the mountains and has sat in the traffic too many times to count.

"Oh, I think the three lanes is definitely a must, especially coming back on a Sunday. When you come back on a Sunday and try to get back from Copper, it's a nightmare," he said.

In a month, the eastbound side of the tunnel will close and the blasting will start.

"We are going to be taking an aggressive approach to this," DeVito said

Traffic will be rerouted around the mountain for the duration of the work.

"It's probably a necessary improvement and worth a little pain for a little while," said Jordan, a commuter from Boulder

Officials say the expansion will be complete by the end of November, around the start of the next ski season. It'll result in a three lane road for commuters all the way from Idaho Springs to Denver.

Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs said the widening is only one solution, describing it as an "early action item."

A popular expression in the area says, "You can't pave your way out of this problem."

DeVito presented information from a CDOT study to lawmakers Thursday. The long-term solutions involved a $12-$14 billion allocation for a high-speed mass transit system between Jefferson and Eagle counties.

He also presented about $6 billion worth of possible additional highway widening projects.

While funding for such large-scale projects hasn't been identified, CDOT says their work on a smaller scale will start to improve the experience of traveling that corridor.

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