Phase II of I-70 Underpass in Vail Shapes Up

The underpass is being built out of necessity because population growth and tourism in and around Vail have led to increased congestion on the roads.

📅   Fri October 14, 2016 - West Edition #21
Chuck Harvey


Colorado Department of Transportation photo. Phase 2 is under way on a $30 million project to add an I-70 underpass that connects north and south frontage roads in the town of Vail, Colo.
Colorado Department of Transportation photo. Phase 2 is under way on a $30 million project to add an I-70 underpass that connects north and south frontage roads in the town of Vail, Colo.
Colorado Department of Transportation photo. Phase 2 is under way on a $30 million project to add an I-70 underpass that connects north and south frontage roads in the town of Vail, Colo. Colorado Department of Transportation photo. Colorado Department of Transportation and the town of Vail are partners in the connector project. Colorado Department of Transportation photo. Construction of the project started in April of this year and is scheduled to conclude in December 2017. Colorado Department of Transportation photo. As part of Phase 1A-1B, the westbound I-70 underpass bridge was built first, followed by construction of the eastbound underpass bridge. Colorado Department of Transportation photo. Phase 2 kicked off after the Fourth of July holiday. It includes lowering and constructing the frontage roads.
Colorado Department of Transportation photo. The new underpass is expected to reduce repetitive I-70 local traffic by providing a direct connection between the core resort village areas and the West Vail mall area.

Phase 2 is under way on a $30 million project to add an I-70 underpass that connects north and south frontage roads in the town of Vail, Colo.

Colorado Department of Transportation and the town of Vail are partners in the connector project located between the main Vail and West Vail interchanges on I-70.

Vail will front $8.73 million of the project cost and Colorado Department of Transportation will pay the remainder through Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance Projects funds.

The project does not add additional I-70 exits or interchanges into the town of Vail.

Phase 2 kicked off after the Fourth of July holiday. It includes lowering and constructing the frontage roads.

The underpass is being built out of necessity. Population growth and tourism in and around Vail have led to increased congestion on the roads including I-70 and its frontage roads. Construction of an additional underpass is considered a means to better connect the town and reduce congestion at the West Vail and Main Vail interchanges.

The new underpass is expected to reduce repetitive I-70 local traffic by providing a direct connection between the core resort village areas and the West Vail mall area.

Average daily traffic at the location is 29,000 vehicles.

“Having this additional underpass will not only make transit operations more efficient, but it will make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross town,” said Tracy Trulove, communications manager at the Region 3 office of the Colorado Department of Transportation. Trulove added that the new underpass also will improve emergency service response times.

Construction of the project started in April of this year and is scheduled to conclude in December 2017.

Contractor, 17 Sub Contractors on the Job.

The contractor for the project is Kraemer North America LLC of Plain, Wisc., and Matt Hogan is project manager.

Major contractors include United Construction of Denver; Your Way Construction of Dolores, Colo.; HTM Construction of Lakewood, Colo.; Gallegos Construction of Alamosa, Col.; WL Electric Contractors of Arvada, Colo. and Western State Contractors of Longmont, Colo.

The I-70 underpass project features numerous trade workers including carpenters, equipment operators, laborers, iron workers, electricians, masons, landscapers, surveyors, painters, rock drillers, traffic control workers, concrete finishers and utility workers.

More than 30 craft workers will be at the job site each day for the duration of the project.

As part of Phase 1A-1B, the westbound I-70 underpass bridge was built first, followed by construction of the eastbound underpass bridge.

Traffic was diverted to a head-to-head two-way configuration on one side of the highway, while the other side's underpass bridge was under construction.

Both bridges will be wider to accommodate frontage road traffic.

Phase 2 includes frontage road detours to accommodate construction of north and south frontage roads and roundabout.

During winter, the frontage roads will be restored to allow for normal use during the winter tourist season.

In spring and summer of 2017, frontage road detours will be restored to allow for final roundabout construction, landscaping work and installation of aesthetic components.

Current Focus of Project — Frontage Roads

Extensive work is now under way along the north and south frontage roads. The roads will be excavated and lowered 12 to 15 ft. (3.6 to 4.5 m), including the relocation of utility lines, construction of new waterline facilities, a storm sewer system and retaining walls.

Equipment on site includes Caterpillar 326F and John Deere 350D excavators; John Deere 35D mini-excavators; Caterpillar 966M and John Deere 742K loaders; Caterpillar 262D, Case 1845C skid steers; Case TR310 track loaders; a Caterpillar 143H motorgrader; Caterpillar D4K bulldozer; forklifts; Ingersoll Rand 77DX roller; and a Mack water truck.

Workers will lay about 1,685 cu. yds. (1,288 cu m) of concrete and 5,261 tons 4773 t) of asphalt.

Landscaping, Aesthetic Components Part of Project

About 80 evergreen trees will be planted throughout the north and south roundabouts. Along with the evergreens, deciduous trees, shrubs and perennials will be planted as well.

Stone mined from the Telluride, Colo. quarry will cover approximately 27,547 sq. ft. (2,559 sq m) of walls as well as the bridge structure.

The town of Vail will place steel artwork on the south frontage road wall that will replicate the mountains.

Impacts on Surrounding Community

Phase 2 includes major construction and detours along the north and south frontage roads. That will impact vehicle movement into Vail. However, only minor delays are expected.

The project team is closely monitoring traffic conditions throughout the project and is considering strategies to help mitigate construction-related congestion. Project updates are available at 970/685-7706 or can be emailed by signing up at i70vailunderpass@cig-pr.com.

Project Benefits

The purpose of the I-70 underpass project is to better connect the north and south sides of I-70 within Vail. The project also addresses transportation deficiencies that exist with respect to interchange operations in town.

The new I-70 underpass will help relieve congestion at the Vail interchanges and reduce the number of vehicles backed up at the I-70 Vail Town Center and West Vail exits.

Also, pedestrians who currently cross I-70 illegally at highway grade will be given a viable, safe alternative to walk to Vail Town Center or West Vail. Bicyclists will be provided a direct connection between the North Recreational Trail and the Gore Valley Trail, avoiding the West Vail and Vail Town Center interchanges.

Planners say the result is better community connectivity.