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Colorado Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel set to unveil major improvements

Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel set to unveil major improvements
Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel set to unveil major improvements 02:32

Now that the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel along Interstate 70 has celebrated its anniversary, the Colorado Department of Transportation is unveiling the major projects it has been working on to bring the major passageway to the high country up to the modern era.

While your reporter in the mountains Spencer Wilson wanted to call it a brain transplant, CDOT deputy director of operations Bob Fifer said it's more like a brain, heart, eye, and ear transplant/upgrade. 

Teams are putting the finishing touches on a new tunnel operations center (think of a big room with a ton of screens, watching everything all at once going on up at the tunnel,) and have completed their construction of garage bays for the equipment stationed at the top of the pass.


Not only does that help crews get moving, but it's also far more comfortable and convenient for them too. 

"They don't have to move the snow off of it, that also adds an increase in response," Fifer said. "When snow starts happening, they are already prepped and ready to go, they are easy to jump in, start up and head out on the road."

The $12 million project is also going to upgrading equipment Fifer said some of which dates back to the 50s and 60s at this point, even though the tunnel was built later. Decades-old copper wires are being replaced, fiber optic is going in, and new cameras and screens are being put up, all in an effort to increase the speed and quality of the monitors inside the tunnel operations center. Those seconds and quality of video mean everything, when you're trying to see if there's something in the road that needs to get out of the road. 


"I guess there are actually nails, we want to be able to zoom in and see nails or debris or see up to two miles away, what does a person look like, are they out on the road, we need to know license plate numbers, or if there is an incident we can start to document it or know, zoom into a car and see there are four passengers in this vehicle," Fifer said. "That lends other tech, like quick clearance, how do we detect it early, how do we respond fast enough and how do we clear it fast enough."

The entire project will have a ribbon cutting come Oct. 16, but the actual system is hoping to be running in the next couple of months.

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