46th Avenue closure September 16 signals beginning of massive Central 70 construction project

Traffic lanes to shift on east side of corridor

DENVER -- Buckle your seatbelts, grab some earplugs and get ready for a four-year ride on the Central 70 Project.

The massive effort to rebuild I-70, from Brighton Boulevard to Chambers Road, begins September 16 with the closure of 46th Avenue west of York.

"There's a big railroad (underpass) there," said CDOT Central 70 Communications Manager Rebecca White. "Crews need to rebuild that (underpass) in order to take the interstate, that today is above the railroad, and put it under."

On September 17, work will also start on the east end of the 10 mile corridor.

Crews will begin placing concrete barriers along a stretch of I-70 from Sand Creek bridge to Chambers Road.

White said the barriers will  will be used to shift traffic inward, closer to the median, so work crews can safely expand the highway from the outside lane.

Excavation begins in 2019

Excavation work on the west end of the corridor, from Brighton Boulevard to Colorado Boulevard, begins in 2019.

White told Denver7 that the the 1.8 mile long stretch of elevated I-70 will remain in use for two more years.

"So when you're on the viaduct driving along, you may not know what's happening below," she said, "but what the crews will be doing is starting the excavation and getting the first part of the highway prepared, so that in two years they'll have enough built out that they can take that traffic down from the viaduct and put it down below."

Viaduct Demolition 2020

White said the viaduct will come down in 2020. 

That's when it could get noisy.

Neighborhood resident John McDermott said he's not looking forward to that, especially if some of the work is done at night. 

"I don't like the idea," he said. "I only live a block and a half away from I-70 and I want to be able to sleep at night."

A spokesman for Kiewit Infrastructure said the contractor will have the proper mitigation measures in place to protect residents during construction.

"We'll have quiet use generators and light plants," Matt Sanman said. "For instances like bridge demolition, there is an area of impact that we will identify, and that's when hotel vouchers will be offered."

Sanman added that " the big intent of the demolition is to take down as much as we can during the day time hours and minimize nighttime demolition." 

Neighborhood resident Benjamin Tomas said he was initially opposed to the expansion project, but now supports it.

"I think basically what it boils down to is progress," he said. "The sooner we get it done, the better...life will be easier.  People can get from A to B."

 Final Work

Once the viaduct is removed, construction crews will then rebuild new eastbound lanes below grade.

In 2021, they will rebuild 46th Avenue South, at grade, in 2021.

The new freeway will replace one originally built in 1964.

"It had two lanes in each direction," White said. "The replacement will have three regular lanes and an express lane in each direction."

She said the lanes will be wider and so will the shoulders.

Wider Footprint

The new I-70 will have a footprint two and a half times larger than the existing viaduct.

White said the capacity will be much larger than the current 200,000 vehicles which travel on it each day.

"This is our economic lifeline," she said. "We've got 1,200 businesses along I-70 employing 26,000 people."

The reconstruction project, estimated to cost $1.2 billion, is expected to be finished in 2022.

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