ROADS/BRIDGES: Denver’s I-70 is going to get a $1.2B expansion

Jan. 20, 2017

The Central 70 project was approved by the FHWA this week

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has approved the reconstruction of I-70 through central Denver.

Federal Highway Administration approval concludes the federally required National Environmental Protection Act process and allows the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to proceed with its Central 70 Project. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018.

The Central 70 Project will reconstruct a 10-mile stretch of I-70, add one new express lane in each direction, remove the aging 53-year-old viaduct, lower the interstate between Brighton and Colorado boulevards and place a four-acre park over a portion of the lowered interstate by Swansea Elementary School. The park will feature play areas, space for concerts and farmers markets, and a large sports field.

“Improving I-70 will improve the quality of life for thousands in the Denver area, and improve public safety for hundreds of thousands each day,” said Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. “This project will make travel safer and more efficient in one of the Rocky Mountain region's busiest areas, setting the stage for years' of economic growth.”

“For the first time since I-70 was opened to travelers in 1964, we are ready to deliver long-overdue safety and mobility improvements that will strengthen this economic lifeline for the region and the state,” said CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt. “The Central 70 Project also redefines the role of I-70 in local communities, which were originally divided by the interstate 50 years ago.”

Project Facts (as disclosed by CDOT)

Constructed in 1964, the 1.8-mile-long I-70 viaduct is second in size to the elevated portion the Glenwood Canyon. CDOT has invested millions of dollars in repairs in recent years to keep the structure safe, however the structure must be replaced within the next 10 years.

Average daily traffic on the Central 70 Project corridor is between 52,000 and 220,000 vehicles per day. Some portions of the highway are congested for up to 10 hours of the day. Forecasted traffic volumes for the year 2035 range from 95,000 to 270,000 vehicles per day. Without improvements, I-70 will be congested for up to 12.5 hours, more than half the day.

The Central 70 Project requires the acquisition of 56 residential properties and 17 businesses. Displaced residents are provided all benefits required by the federal Uniform Relocation Act. To date this process has provided a path to homeownership for 24 renters.

Final design will begin in the summer of 2017 following the selection of a developer/partner to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the project, which will be delivered as a public-private partnership. Construction is expected to begin in 2018.

Photo source: CDOT website