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Interstate 70 Expansion: Heavy Construction Is Only A Year Away

By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4) - In the next 60 days, one of four teams of developers will be selected to design, build, operate and maintain Interstate 70 between Chambers Road and Brighton Boulevard. It will be a Public Private Partnership under the supervision of the High Performance Transportation Enterprise.

"We will continue to own Central 70, we're not selling it to anyone and we will continue to monitor the developer just like we do on U.S. 36," said David Spector, HPTE's president, referring to the recent Denver-Boulder Turnpike improvements.

This Central 70 project was given the green light by the federal government in January. It was the culmination of years of study and planning which started back in 2003 and is desperately needed, according to transportation officials.

(credit: Colorado Department of Transportation)

"If we didn't do anything today we would be looking at probably a 65 minute commute from Interstate 25 to Tower Road in 2035. With these improvements we'll be cutting this in half, in 2035 this will look like a 30 minute commute," Keith Stefanik, Central 70 lead engineer.

And this means big changes for that elevated portion of highway just east of I-25. The entire 54-year-old viaduct will be demolished and replaced with a park and I-70 will be moved under that park. It will include a turf field, spray parks, amphitheater, space for food trucks and even grassy areas at both ends of the park referred to as bookends.

interstate 70
(credit: Colorado Department of Transportation)

John Karner, finance specialist for the City and County of Denver explains, "That'll help shield the sound and the noise from the highway so that when you are in the middle you actually won't hear the highway, you'll feel like you're on any other park in the city."

The Colorado Department of Transportation also hopes to minimize traffic headaches by requiring all three lanes to be open in both directions during rush hour for the entire project and only having about 10 full closures of the interstate -- a majority happening on the weekends.

Opposition to the project is hoping to halt construction, which is scheduled to start next year.

Joel Hillan is CBS4's Traffic Specialist and is featured on CBS4 This Morning. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.

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