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Completion of Glenwood Canyon paving project signals end of head-to-head traffic

One lane westbound to open on Friday

Shoshana Lew, CDOT executive director, helps to cut the ribbon signaling the completion of the deck work through Glenwood Canyon on I-70.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent
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After a summer fraught with challenges, the $14 million Interstate 70 Glenwood Canyon Surface Improvements Project is done.

“We are well overdue for a bit of good news in [Glenwood] canyon after the last couple of months,” Colorado Department of Transportation executive director Shoshana Lew said at a brief ceremony recognizing completion of the project Wednesday.

One lane of westbound traffic will be open in the canyon starting Friday, CDOT Project Engineer Josh Cullen said.

The upper and lower decks of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon near Grizzly Creek MM 121.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent
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There are various finishing touches being taken care of in the canyon that altogether require a lane closure, CDOT Region 3 Communications Manager Elise Thatcher said.

Although the paving project is done, road work isn’t completely finished in the canyon.

“We still have some ongoing work in the eastbound [lanes] for the next month or so. We have a bridge joint to replace at mile 123. Hopefully we’ll be wrapping up by early November,” Cullen said.

Thatcher said drivers can expect one-lane travel in both directions into November.

At the event CDOT representatives thanked travelers and celebrated the completion of a project under difficult circumstances.

“I want to thank all the folks who travel the canyon frequently. It’s been a headache to do the head-to-head traffic,” CDOT Region 3 Transportation Director Michael Goolsby said.

“From an engineering perspective … these projects always pose a challenge,” Cullen said. But this year’s challenges were seemingly biblical. He mentioned traffic to the tune of 17,000 vehicles a day, the Grizzly Creek Fire, rockfall and the pandemic.

The project comprised more than repaving.

“At all of the rest areas from No Name up to Siloam Springs we’ve upgraded all the ADA ramps. That was also completed with this project,” Cullen said.

The reconstructed sections of road surface should hold up for more than a decade.

“They’ll hopefully last another 10-20 years. All of the pavement from Hanging Lake to No Name interchange on the westbound lanes has been reconstructed,” CDOT Region 3 engineer Andrew Knapp said, referring to that section as a quadrant.

There is more paving to be done in the future, but that depends on funding.

“The canyon as a whole still has a significant need for new pavement. Anyone who drives the detour can see the deterioration of the asphalt. … We’re hoping whenever funds are available to be able to do another similar phase where the detour has been,” Knapp said.

Polyester concrete

For the elevated sections of I-70, CDOT uses a special paving material called polyester concrete.

“The benefit of this material is that it is flexible, so it’s not prone to cracking, and it’s also waterproof. So we see a lot more durability out of this product, especially in the harsh environment of the canyon with its excessive amounts of freeze-thaw cycles and rockfall impacts,” Knapp said.

Cullen said the polyester concrete is three to four times more expensive than the conventional concrete road surface.

But it’s worth it.

“It’s a durable material that needs less maintenance. … We feel like it provides a long-term value,” Knapp said.

As pleased as the engineers may be that this project is completed they’re already looking forward to the next one.

“We’re just really excited to have one of these quadrants completed. … We’re eager to be able to continue these improvements in other quadrants whenever money is available,” Knapp said.

cwertheim@postindependent.com


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