DENVER — Traffic was backed up for blocks along York Street Tuesday morning as drivers tried to navigate their way around the latest detour for the Central 70 project.
Starting Monday night, the on-ramp from York Street to I-70 was closed down permanently as construction crews build a new bridge for Union Pacific trains passing through the area.
It’s just the latest construction phase for the $1.2 billion I-70 expansion project.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has been warning drivers about the changes for weeks. However, even CDOT’s warnings weren’t enough to encourage drivers to find an alternate route.
“I was not expecting this," said one driver passing through the area. "I’ve been on this road many times when the ramp has been closed but today has by far been the worst."
He said had been stuck in traffic on York Street for more than 30 minutes by the time our Denver7 crews spoke with him and said the route normally takes about 10 minutes.
Other drivers reported similar wait times to get up York Street.
One problem some drivers who are unfamiliar with the area faced were GPS systems that had not been updated to reflect the road closure.
“Google maps took me this way and I don’t know why and so here I am,” one driver said.
CDOT has put out a map detailing the detour it suggests for drivers to take to get onto I-70. The map tells drivers to take a left on 46th from York and then another left on Steele Street to catch the I-70 ramp in that area.
Another issue drivers experienced Tuesday morning was the traffic light on York and Steavenson. It only let a few cars through at a time, causing York to get clogged during the morning traffic.
CDOT said the traffic light is on a city street and so Denver controls the timing of it. Gabi Dyer with CDOT said it is working closely with the city to determine whether the timing of the traffic signal should change since the on-ramp is now permanently closed. Dyer said they are also looking for other ways to ease traffic in the area.
Construction on the Central 70 project is not set to be completed until 2022 and it will happen in phases.