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Author Topic: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades  (Read 27075 times)

SpudMuffin

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I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« on: August 06, 2013, 02:20:23 PM »

Get this:

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_23791631/tolling-likely-part-any-revamp-i-70-colorados

The Denver Post reports that a panel suggests toll lanes built in the median of I-70 between C-470 and Silverthorne are likely part of any future improvement project. From the article: "The initial phase of the "Parsons Plan" calls for building a reversible express tollway, two or three lanes wide, stretching about 53 miles between C-470 and Silverthorne. General purpose lanes on I-70 also would be reconstructed." And also... "Parsons also says it will add bores at the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel and at the Twin Tunnels at Idaho Springs." All this would come at a price tag of $3.5 billion. CDOT will assess the plan in the near future for economic feasibility.

Sure sounds like one helluva project, especially considering the terrain.
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brad2971

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2013, 09:52:06 PM »

Get this:

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_23791631/tolling-likely-part-any-revamp-i-70-colorados

The Denver Post reports that a panel suggests toll lanes built in the median of I-70 between C-470 and Silverthorne are likely part of any future improvement project. From the article: "The initial phase of the "Parsons Plan" calls for building a reversible express tollway, two or three lanes wide, stretching about 53 miles between C-470 and Silverthorne. General purpose lanes on I-70 also would be reconstructed." And also... "Parsons also says it will add bores at the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel and at the Twin Tunnels at Idaho Springs." All this would come at a price tag of $3.5 billion. CDOT will assess the plan in the near future for economic feasibility.

Sure sounds like one helluva project, especially considering the terrain.

It says quite a bit about how desperate for work the Parsons Brinckerhoffs of this economy are that they would present, on their own volition, a plan that would likely financially bankrupt them if implemented. I feel quite confident that there is no economic way that toll lanes on I-70 through the divide are feasible on their own. Especially when one considers that the biggest peak hours on that Interstate are:

1. Friday afternoons from Dec-Mar, and June-Labor Day weekend.
2. Sunday afternoons during those same months.

No, the mainline lanes of I-70 from C-470 to at least the Vail Valley have to be tolled for such a project to even come close to making its capital costs.
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Henry

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2013, 11:37:03 AM »

As this is a state that's notorious for its mountainous terrain, I wouldn't be surprised if it took a decade or more to complete! Still, it's an interesting project to undertake.
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TXtoNJ

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2013, 04:28:34 AM »

A $3.5 billion pricetag for this project seems extremely optimistic.
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Zmapper

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2013, 12:43:11 AM »

If Parsons can construct the additional lanes with minimal governmental subsidy, it would be fully worth it.

Additionally, a coach transit solution should be evaluated. Right now, many RTD intercity coaches are used during the weekday peak, but otherwise idle. Perhaps after the Friday evening rush, RTD coaches could depart the various metro-area park-n-rides to the mountains, and return on Sunday, in time for the Monday morning rush. RTD already has experience with a similar service to the airport, SkyRide, and should be able to use their knowledge to operate a service to the mountains.
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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2013, 12:43:19 PM »

Quote
A $3.5 billion pricetag for this project seems extremely optimistic.

My thought as well, especially considering the distance, the terrain, and the need for additional tunnel bores.

I think Brad's right as well...only way this becomes even remotely financially viable is if you toll the mainline as well.  Unfortunately, I think the only place CDOT could legally do that (under current Federal law) would be at the Eisenhower Tunnel itself....while Federal law limits proposals to toll existing free Interstates to 3 pilot projects (all currently taken), there's more flexibility when it comes to potentially tolling bridges and tunnels.
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Zmapper

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2013, 12:47:41 PM »

Quote
A $3.5 billion pricetag for this project seems extremely optimistic.

My thought as well, especially considering the distance, the terrain, and the need for additional tunnel bores.

I think Brad's right as well...only way this becomes even remotely financially viable is if you toll the mainline as well.  Unfortunately, I think the only place CDOT could legally do that (under current Federal law) would be at the Eisenhower Tunnel itself....while Federal law limits proposals to toll existing free Interstates to 3 pilot projects (all currently taken), there's more flexibility when it comes to potentially tolling bridges and tunnels.

To be clear, states are allowed to toll existing bridges and tunnels? Hypothetically speaking, could CDOT toll a "bridge" over some insignificant creek and dedicate the revenue to the corridor, or would revenue generated be limited to just the "bridge" segment in question?
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brad2971

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2013, 01:01:49 PM »

If Parsons can construct the additional lanes with minimal governmental subsidy, it would be fully worth it.

Additionally, a coach transit solution should be evaluated. Right now, many RTD intercity coaches are used during the weekday peak, but otherwise idle. Perhaps after the Friday evening rush, RTD coaches could depart the various metro-area park-n-rides to the mountains, and return on Sunday, in time for the Monday morning rush. RTD already has experience with a similar service to the airport, SkyRide, and should be able to use their knowledge to operate a service to the mountains.

While this idea is one that definitely should be explored, bear in mind that it would likely be ECO Transit (Eagle County) and/or SummitStage (Summit County) that would run this shuttle. Too many issues with RTD (a standalone political subdivision of the state of CO) going out of its service area for them to run this service.

Again, let's all bear in mind that outside those winter and summer weekends, I-70 is very much a free-flowing interstate.
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NE2

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2013, 01:05:13 PM »

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ipd/fact_sheets/tolling_programs.htm
Quote
The ISRRPP allows the conversion of free Interstate highways into toll facilities in conjunction with needed reconstruction or rehabilitation that is only possible with the collection of tolls. Congress has authorized up to three slots in the program, which must be used for projects in different states. At the present time, all three slots are conditionally reserved for States that are currently developing applications to the program.
It seems that they can put tolls anywhere, not just on bridges or tunnels.
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froggie

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2013, 12:54:33 AM »

That's the three pilot project bit I mentioned earlier, but there's another subset of Federal law that allow it on bridges and tunnels....I don't have the details offhand.
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Revive 755

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2013, 08:42:58 PM »

How long before one of the three opens up though?  I don't see Missouri going through with tolling I-70.
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andy3175

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2013, 10:54:35 PM »

Not entirely on-topic but worthwhile since the Idaho Springs Tunnels were mentioned upstream: An expansion project is underway to widen I-70 through Floyd Hill to Idaho Springs, including the twin tunnels. Construction was underway when I passed through earlier this month.

http://www.coloradodot.info/projects/i70twintunnels

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Mark68

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2013, 03:49:55 PM »

Couldn't CDOT potentially toll the Idaho Springs tunnels, the Ike/Johnson tunnels, and the Glenwood Springs tunnel (as well as the elevated portions of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon)?
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thenetwork

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2013, 09:04:27 AM »

If it's tolling to alleviate the major weekend traffic jams between Vail and Denver, then there is no need or reason to toll Glenwood Canyon.  The only jams that the canyon has is when there are accidents, rockslides or construction that close up one direction and two-way traffic is shared in the other. 

If you are going to toll, I'd put the Eisenhower Tunnel toll barrier just east of the tunnels and the US-6/Loveland Pass exit.  Haz-Mat vehicles who must take US-6 over the divide as well as those wanting to skirt the "tunnel toll" should pitch in as well.

That being said, a single toll point is all that is really needed as that is where the majority of the traffic volumes come together on I-70 before they spread out on either side to off-highway designations.
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andy3175

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2014, 12:32:20 PM »

Not entirely on-topic but worthwhile since the Idaho Springs Tunnels were mentioned upstream: An expansion project is underway to widen I-70 through Floyd Hill to Idaho Springs, including the twin tunnels. Construction was underway when I passed through earlier this month.

http://www.coloradodot.info/projects/i70twintunnels

Regards,
Andy

On December 13, the expanded eastbound tunnel at Idaho Springs opened to traffic:

http://denver.cbslocal.com/2013/12/12/twin-tunnels-expansion-hopes-to-ease-traffic-congestion-i-70/

http://denver.cbslocal.com/2013/12/13/twin-tunnels-eastbound-now-open-with-3-lanes/

Quote
“Many years in the making to get to this point [opening on December 13, 2013],”  said CDOT Region One Transportation Director Tony DeVito. The project [widened] the tunnel’s eastbound bore to accommodate an additional lane of I-70 just a couple of miles downhill from Idaho Springs. After months of blasting out tons of rock, three lanes of eastbound traffic will be allowed through starting on Friday. “This is an exciting day. It’s hard to believe we started this detour on April 1,”  said DeVito. The eastbound tunnel was singled out as the major pinch point for the drive back to Denver from the mountains. New LED lights will also help. “This tunnel is much higher, much wider and you’re not going to get that black hole effect that was slowing people with a psychological event for many years,”  said DeVito.

Also notable was this comment about the possibility of toll lanes at the end of the first article:

Quote
With that expansion complete, other projects for the mountain corridor are moving forward. “The main thing CDOT is working on right now is the peak period shoulder lane project,”  said DeVito. “It will add an operational lane, a shoulder lane that will become operational during peak periods from Empire.”  The shoulder lane is expected to be completed in the summer of 2015 and it will cost drivers to use it.

The second article adds about the toll lanes:

Quote
The tunnel widening is only one part of a larger project. In 2014 the Interstate 70 peak period shoulder lane project will get started. It will be adding a lane for eastbound travel from the empire junction where U.S. 40 splits off toward Winter Park and go all the way through Idaho Springs to the tunnels. When it’s done the shoulder lanes can be taken at any time, but during peak travel times it will be a toll lane. It opens in 2015.

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Andy
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pctech

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2014, 03:23:07 PM »

A friend and I drove this route back in Sept. (Denver-Glenwood Springs) There was a lot of work going on on I-70 including the tunnel expansion mentioned here.
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andy3175

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2015, 01:04:30 AM »

The "Mountain Corridor Express Lane" opens on December 12, 2015:

http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/blog/broadway_17th/2015/11/a-colorado-freeway-israted-among-the-5-worst-in.html

Quote
The long-anticipated Mountain Corridor Express Lane, a 13-mile eastbound shoulder lane intended to speed traffic during high-volume periods, is set to open Dec. 12. Travelers will pay anywhere from $3 to $30 to use the lane, depending on traffic conditions.

And the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed an amendment that would designate I-70 from Denver to Salt Lake City as a "Corridor of High Priority," authored by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder. The amendment is part of a transportation bill that would fund the nation's roads, bridges and highways, and would make I-70 eligible for certain funding.

Also, the part of I-70 that runs through Denver is also facing a major construction overhaul after city officials proposed a $1.17 billion plan to widen the highway through north Denver and put a lid on it, as well as deal with its crumbling viaducts.

Official CDOT site: https://www.codot.gov/projects/I70mtnppsl

Quote
The project, part of CDOT’s comprehensive plan to improve travel in the I-70 Mountain Corridor, will upgrade 13-miles of Eastbound I-70 within CDOT’s existing right of way. The upgrades will create the I-70 Mountain Express Lane; a wide shoulder that — only during peak travel periods — will operate as a third travel lane. The I-70 Mountain Express Lane will be dynamically priced to keep traffic moving. Prices will lower when CDOT wants to encourage drivers to use the lane and rise as the lane reaches capacity. Click here for more information on how express lanes operate. ...

The I-70 Mountain Express Lane is scheduled to open to traffic on Saturday, Dec. 12. In the days leading up to this there will be a significant amount of systems testing done. This work will require closing different lanes at different times and running messages on the overhead electronic boards.

Drivers should note that tolls will not be collected until Saturday, Dec. 12, at the earliest.

While the opening of this lane is a major milestone for the Peak Period Shoulder Lane Project, work on this project (and lane closures as needed) will continue into 2016.

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_28970386/i-70-toll-lane-could-cost-up-40

Quote
Drivers jumping onto the toll lane on the Interstate 70 mountain corridor could pay as much as $40, while those traveling to a University of Colorado football game will pay more if they use the U.S. 36 toll lane.

Those toll rates and others were set Wednesday by the state's High Performance Transportation Enterprise, which oversees tolling on Colorado's busiest roadways. ...

Drivers who use a state-approved electronic ExpressToll pass get a break on prices, officials said.

For instance, the price range a driver using a toll pass on I-70 will vary from $3 to $30. A driver without a toll pass could see a bill as high as $40, because of processing fees. The lane, which will not give credit for high-occupancy vehicles, will open by the end of the year.
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Gulol

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2015, 10:53:02 AM »

The I-70 toll lane is opening this weekend and will be free of charge (I'm pretty sure it's for the whole weekend but may be wrong).  With snow in the forecast, it will be interesting to see how much a free 3rd lane in the snow will impact drive times from Empire to Idaho Springs.  I'm curious also to see if pricing will ever hit the ceiling level discussed - supply and demand will be at work here
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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2015, 01:56:33 PM »

When I went to Denver in May, I must not have noticed the toll lanes being built. Does anyone have any recent picture of the project? The tunnels at Idaho Springs were done by that time.
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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2015, 05:41:26 PM »

I have a feeling this is another Big Dig...or maybe TXDOT and Santiago Calatrava is reconstructing and designing this rather than CDOT.
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thenetwork

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2015, 10:51:00 AM »

When I went to Denver in May, I must not have noticed the toll lanes being built. Does anyone have any recent picture of the project? The tunnels at Idaho Springs were done by that time.

It's was pretty much camouflaged over the summer (at least thru mid-July), as there were no signs/gantries set up yet.  They pretty much widened the eastbound lanes as much as they could -- some areas have shoulders &/or pulloff areas when the toll lane is in use, otherwise it is 3-lanes with little to no shoulder.
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2015, 05:21:35 PM »

Are there any other roads in the Denver area you think should have toll lanes, where none currently exist?
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thenetwork

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2015, 07:18:57 PM »

Are there any other roads in the Denver area you think should have toll lanes, where none currently exist?

Boulder Turnpike (US-36) has dedicated toll lanes, finished this year.  There has been talk about adding a 3rd lane in each direction along C-470 and making that a toll lane.  And there has been talk of including a toll lane in each direction when the I-70 viaduct is replaced.

With I-225 and the southern half of I-25 recently rebuilt, there would definitely be an uproar if they suddenly turned a free lane into a Toll lane.   

That leaves the other toll lane candidates as I-270, which has room for a 3rd lane, I-76 (ditto), and I-25 North of US-36/I-270.
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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2015, 07:19:14 AM »

What about I-25 north to Fort Collins or I-25 south to Colorado Springs? Or are there any plans to widen those with general purpose lanes?
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Cody Goodman
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thenetwork

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Re: I-70 in Colorado: Mountain Corridor Upgrades
« Reply #24 on: December 21, 2015, 10:11:55 AM »

What about I-25 north to Fort Collins or I-25 south to Colorado Springs? Or are there any plans to widen those with general purpose lanes?


Haven't been on I-25 North of Denver, so I cannot address that.   But I know they are slowly adding a 3rd lane between south Denver Metro and the Springs, but I don't think that is enough of a chronic choke point for traffic to warrant a toll lane.  Then again, I was only on that stretch once...around midnight...in the dark and there were no issues, obviously.
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