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As winter approaches, CDOT prepares to break ground on Floyd Hill project

First parts of project expected to begin in October
As winter approaches, CDOT prepares to break ground on Floyd Hill project
Posted at 7:25 PM, Sep 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-05 21:25:11-04

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. — On a long holiday weekend, the Floyd Hill Loop Trail is packed with mountain bikers starting to say their goodbyes to summer.

“Between biking, hiking, trail running, camping, there's just so many different fun activities," said Katie Murphy. “What do I not like about summers in Colorado?”

With the hot temperatures on Labor Day, it was hard for some to even think about the seasons changing.

"It's a little bittersweet because it does feel like it's the end of summer. But you know, it's obviously Colorado, so the best is yet to come come fall," Annabel Bavage said.

Both Murphy and Bavage know how difficult traffic can be along Interstate 70 during the winter months.

“Historically, it's terrible in the mornings on weekends," Murphy said about driving to the mountains during ski season. “Sitting in traffic is one of my least favorite parts about living in Colorado.”

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), westbound I-70 between Floyd Hill and the Veterans Memorial Tunnels is one of the most congested parts of the mountain corridor. It can become especially troublesome during the winter months when weather hits as drivers are trying to get to the mountains.

“It's a stretch of road that was first constructed in the early 1960s, when we were bringing the interstate to Colorado. And frankly, it just isn't up to today's standards. And it certainly isn't up to Colorado's population today," said CDOT communications director Matt Inzeo.

Around five years ago, CDOT collaborated with the Federal Highway Administration to start planning improvements in that section of I-70. Inzeo said those improvements include adding a third express lane on the westbound side, smoother curves and proper shoulder space, along with intuitive bridges placed on the eastbound side.

"It's going to make the road a lot more functional, a lot safer, and just a lot easier for everyone to use, particularly as you're moving through that very difficult stretch," Inzeo said. “We have put the very first project out to bid with the construction industry right now. So, we're expecting private companies to be putting some proposals together. When those come back, frankly in a few weeks, I think we'll be able to begin that evaluation process.”

Inzeo said CDOT is close to finalizing the exact design for the Floyd Hill project. He expects to break ground on the initial projects this October, but said the construction will last until 2026, and potentially could continue into 2027. The project is estimated to cost between $600 million and $700 million.

“Our earliest projects are going to help some of the local traffic movements so that they are as ready as possible when the big construction really gets going next year," Inzeo explained. “Obviously, it's a construction project, there will be impacts from time to time, we'll be coming back to folks to to let them know when that happens. But we're going to be doing everything we can to keep that experience as smooth as we can.”

Inzeo does not expect many impacts to drivers during this ski season, which is a relief for Coloradans who love their outdoor recreation and who are excited to use the finished product.

“Having a little bit better travel through the I-70 corridor on weekends is going to be wonderful for getting to and from the mountains from the Front Range," said Murphy.