I-70 concerns dominate conversation at CDOT listening tour
BRECKENRIDGE — Officials from the Colorado Department of Transportation stopped Tuesday in Summit County as part of the agency’s summer statewide listening tour. CDOT is visiting towns across Colorado to gather feedback and concerns about what the agency’s priorities should be in managing the state’s highways, including the notorious Interstate 70 mountain corridor and its bottleneck at the Eisenhower Tunnel.
The listening tour is part of CDOT’s planning process to develop a 10-year strategic pipeline of projects, which will strive to include all modes of transportation, not just car travel.
CDOT executive director Shoshana Lew and other CDOT officials met with the Summit Board of County Commissioners at the old county courthouse in Breckenridge. Lew outlined the agency’s mission and goals for Summit County.
Lew explained how highways running through Summit and other mountain communities posed unique challenges to drivers and CDOT.
“Mountain corridors have narrow shoulders and lanes, a lack of resiliency, and there are not a lot of alternate routes,” Lew said.
Aside from the stretch of I-70 that runs from the Eisenhower Tunnel to Copper Mountain, other major CDOT-maintained thoroughfares in the county include Colorado Highway 6, which runs east-west through Keystone and bypasses the Eisenhower Tunnel, and Colorado Highway 9, which runs from Frisco to Breckenridge. Colorado Highway 91, running from Copper Mountain south to Leadville, also is a high-use thoroughfare.
Not surprisingly, those highways make up the bulk of accidents and wildlife-vehicle collisions that occur in the county.
CDOT also has identified three stretches of road with higher numbers of crashes: the section of I-70 between Frisco and Copper Mountain near Vail Pass and two sections of Highway 9, one immediately north of Silverthorne and another farther north near Heeney.
Aside from safety, CDOT regional planning manager Mark Rogers also acknowledged safety and navigability concerns with Exits 203 and 205 on I-70, which both have on- and off-ramps that have created traffic backups.
Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier also noted the safety concerns created from traffic backups from the tunnel, which have run all the way down to Silverthorne and Frisco. Stiegelmeier said she personally has seen vehicles spin out of control trying to stop when coming up on stand-still traffic.
County manager Scott Vargo and others also flagged the most complained-about stretch of road in Summit: I-70 between Exits 203 and 205. That twisting piece of road is riddled with potholes, cracks and exposed seams that have wreaked havoc on the suspensions of thousands of cars passing over them.
Rogers said that stretch of I-70 was one priority project assigned for Summit County. Other major project priorities listed by CDOT include:
- Improvement to interchanges and bridges at both Exits 203 and 205, including the creation of a diamond interchange at Exit 205
- A shoulder addition on Highway 9 from Breckenridge to Alma
- An addition of a third lane over Vail Pass in both directions
- A possible addition of an auxiliary lane on I-70 eastbound between Frisco and Silverthorne
- General improvements to Highway 9, including widening, water drainage improvements, intersection improvements and a potential roundabout in Frisco
- Improvements to the Eisenhower/Johnson tunnels
- Rebuilds of the Breckenridge and Frisco transit stations
Due to constant CDOT budget constraints, many of these projects are far from being completed, and some may never become reality.
CDOT officials encouraged community members to give their input on the agency’s priorities by filling out a survey on YourTransportationPlan.com.
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