Denver’s I-70 expansion snagged on delays, milestones missed

Contractors and the Colorado DOT are prioritizing a realigned schedule

August 10, 2020 / 3 minute read
Rendering: Colorado DOT website

The $1.2 billion Central 70 project—an expansion of I-70 through northeast Denver—has been ongoing for two years, and while sizable progress is in evidence, there remain several project milestones as yet unattained, and project leaders are now struggling to get ahold of the schedule to make up for missed chances.


The expectation had been for a 50% completion milestone to have been achieve by this time; however, the project’s prime contracting team, Kiewit-Meridiam Partners, are projecting 10 months of delays in its most recent monthly progress report. Major work in now slated for a July 2023 completion—16 months past the completion date prior to a schedule revision that took place late last year.


Kiewit-Meridiam and the Colorado DOT are presently working to again readjust this schedule with an eye toward pushing that completion date forward to sometime in 2022.


The Central 70 project, which broke ground in August 2018, expands a 10-mile corridor between I-25 in Denver and Chambers Road in Aurora to add a tolled express lane in each direction, with a second lane possible in a future project.


Aside from widening, work completed so far includes:


  • Excavation of nearly 1.3 million cu yd of dirt, most of it in the west segment, the most intensive of three sections. That’s where crews are digging between Brighton and Colorado boulevards to make room for a sunken section of freeway that will replace a crumbling viaduct that runs for nearly 2 miles.

  • The build of a new span of the Colorado Boulevard bridge over the highway in the central section of the project site.

  • Crews have built a new flyover ramp from I-270 to eastbound I-70.

  • Throughout the project corridor, crews have placed 275,000 tons of asphalt, according to the CDOT project office. Frontage roads have been relocated, 13 highway ramps have been reconstructed, and two bridges are in, with 16 more on the docket.


According to the Denver Post, future planning and work includes:


Late spring: Opening of the new Union Pacific crossing is expected in June, or possibly sooner. It was supposed to be done this fall under the official schedule and is a linchpin for other key milestones.

  • August 2021: Completion of repaving in the central segment, between Colorado and Quebec Street, will happen about two months after traffic is placed in its final configuration.

  • September 2021: The first major traffic switch in the west segment will move both directions of travel into the new westbound sunken section between Brighton and Colorado, with enough room for three lanes in each direction. This move, which had been expected about now in the original schedule, will allow for demolition of the viaduct and excavation of the eastbound side of the trench.

  • September 2022: The second major traffic switch will move eastbound traffic into its permanent position.


While Keith Stefanik, the Central 70 project director, says CDOT and the prime are working well together, and Kiewit spokesperson Matt Sanman says the company shares CDOT’s overall optimism, the project office stated in a recent scheduling document: “If past performance is a predictor of future events, it is reasonable to conclude that the Project will continue to have construction productivity issues, nonconforming work, and changes in design during construction that will cumulatively result in additional future delays.”


Source: Denver Post

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