CDOT is embarking on a four-year-long construction project that will overhaul 10 miles of I-70, east of I-25.

This summer, CDOT (the Colorado Department of Transportation) will begin work on the Central 70 Project, which will remove an existing I-70 viaduct, lower the interstate underground by 30 feet, add an express lane in each direction, and build a 1,000-foot-long, four-acre park over the newly lowered highway (lowway?). Though the entire 10-mile stretch of I-70 between I-25 and Chambers Road will be affected, the bulk of the construction will take place between Brighton and Colorado boulevards. [caption id="attachment_36179" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Courtesy of Google Earth[/caption]
The project, when complete in 2022, is expected to cut down on heavy I-70 traffic and make the entire stretch of road safer and more conducive to the city's growth in coming years.
"The first problem is the viaduct, which is in pretty bad shape," Rebecca White, the Central 70 communications director told Westword. "It's a 50-plus-year-old stretch of interstate, and there are a lot of safety improvements that are needed to meet the modern safety standards for interstate highways." [gallery type="rectangular" size="large" ids="36181,36180"] That's why planners invested 14 years of research and meetings into the project, to ensure that the final product provides permanent, long-term solutions to a problematic area, while its construction causes the least amount of disruption to existing residents and businesses. In fact, CDOT has promised that it will take the necessary measures to minimize noise and dust from the construction, as well as give to local programs that provide food and affordable housing within the community.
The park design was also part of the deal, with community members getting to weigh in on the park's amenities. As a result, there are plans for more than 100 trees, a splash park, a sports field, an amphitheater, at least two playgrounds, and space for farmers' markets, concerts, and other events. As far as I-70 itself, the incline down to the underground portion will be very gradual. "The grade coming out of the lower section will be between 3 and 4 percent, which is nothing out of the ordinary for urban highways," White said. "That's part of the standard we have to meet for the Federal Highway Administration. And as all of that gentle, sloping work is done, we won't ever have to stop traffic entirely. There won't be any major detours from the interstate at any point in the project." In fact, since full use of I-70 is so important to the state's economy, lanes will never be closed during daylight hours. Even so, interstate construction work always seems to cause some traffic delays, so frequent commuters are encouraged to sign up for travel alerts or look into other transportation options. For more detailed information and additional artist renderings of the Central 70 project, visit CDOT's website!

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