The Interstate 70 corridor between I-25 and Tower Road is Colorado’s only east-west Interstate connection serving as an essential backbone of state and regional commerce, moving residents and tourist between the airport, downtown Denver, and the communities and resorts to the west. The viaduct (the elevated portion of I-70 on a bridge) was constructed in the early 1960’s, and is reaching the point where it must be reconstructed to safely convey the traveling public and freight that keeps the Colorado economy moving.
For the first time in ten years of extensive study, which includes reviewing over 200 options, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) recently recommended a “preferred alternative” for the I-70 East Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Partial Cover Lowered (PCL) option on the Exisiting Alignment would remove the elevated section of I-70, lower the highway below grade, cover the highway by Swansea Elementary School and reconnect the Elyria and Swansea neighborhood. This alternative was developed over many years of work with community and has broad public support, including from elected officials. In April 2013, the project team held public meetings attended by more than 400, during which the community urged CDOT to move forward with this alternative.
CDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) expect to issue a Record of Decision finalizing plans for I-70 East in 2015, so that construction can begin as soon as 2016. This timing is critical given the condition of the nearly 50-year-old bride. Although recent repairs extended its useful life, the viaduct must still be replaced and construction of the new highway needs to begin soon.
To meet these deadlines, a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be released in late summer 2014. It will preliminary identify the PCL option as the preferred alternative. This document will analyze the alternatives on the existing alignment being considered. It also includes additional discussions on why CDOT chose not to consider rerouting the highway out of Denver. Following public comment, a Final Environmental Impact Statement will be prepared, which will contain refinements, a funding plan, and responses to questions submitted on the Supplemental Draft EIS. After additional public comment, the FHWA will issue a record of Decision.
The purpose of the project is to implement a transportation solution that improves safety, access, and mobility and addresses congestion on I-70. The need for this project results from the following issues: