Mountain communities worry safety could be jeopardized with I-70 traffic projects

Posted at 11:08 PM, Jul 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 01:08:05-04

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Getting to the high country can be difficult with all of the traffic and congestion on the I-70 mountain corridor. The lanes bottleneck in the area, the Floyd Hill bridge is deteriorating and some of the sharp curves and turns can be particularly dangerous during the winter months.

On Wednesday night at a Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) town hall meeting in Idaho Springs, there was a big concern for safety from those living mountain communities.

For retired couple Paul and Linda Berteau, making their way down the mountain from Floyd Hill can be tricky and even trickier when they get to the bottom.

Safety is a major concern for them with high fire danger, the added traffic and the fact that they only have one emergency exit route on the mountain, the couple said, adding there have been several lightning strike fires in the recent past.

“The fire department had to come in and hike in with water,” said Linda. “There’s families and there are handicapped people and pets.”

The heavy traffic and congestion on the I-70 mountain corridor and the deteriorating I-70 Floyd Bridge has them worried.

“There are always accidents in the winter on Floyd Hill. It’s where all of a sudden it becomes icy,” said Linda.

After eight months of studies and collecting community opinions, CDOT has come up with three options for moving a portion of I-70 from the top of Floyd Hill to Veteran’s Memorial Tunnel.

Engineers will then have to decide which one works best with the four suggested interchange options to US 6.
After the meeting, the couple had differing opinions.

“They have to be public and they ask for opinions and they never really use them,” said Linda.

Paul felt a little more optimistic about the process.

“They’re trying to listen to the public’s concern and trying to integrate that into the project. I respect that and I appreciate that as well.”

Something they do agree on, whatever changes:

“Our focus is to make sure that those changes don’t have significant negative impact,” said Paul.

Next month, CDOT will begin study on the proposed changes to I-70. There were also discussions about potential pedestrian and bike paths added to the area.

Another project, the Westbound Peak Period Shoulder Lane will begin in Winter 2018.

For more information about the projects visit CDOT's concept development page.