On The Road Again: Hit Play, Repeat
$60.7m for Vail Pass Improvements
Yesterday, June 18, 2020 the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced that it has been awarded a $60.7 million grant for significant improvements to Vail Pass on I-70. With the work scheduled to begin as early as next summer 2021, Leadville and Lake County is likely to feel the impact with traffic detours and planned go-around routes by tourists utilizing Highways 91 & 24. Of course, that’s next summer. But still, #goodtoknow for planning and readers can find the official CDOT press release below.
In addition, here is some other road and highway #NewsYouCanUse
- Downtown Leadville – Highway 24 Project Update
- Minturn: “We’re Done!”
- How Vail Pass Got Its Name
- CSP Trooper Cutler’s Column: “Yielding”
Buckle Up With Patience for Next Week
Residents and all motorists are reminded that with both vehicle and foot traffic picking up in Leadville, it’s important to observe closures and detours while entering the work zone. Additionally, please adhere to social distancing and wearing a mask when communicating directly with any of the work crew. Remember, there are two main projects happening on Highway 24. The first is the US 24 Leadville Overlay & ADA Ramps. Here’s what will be happening next week (June 22) with the downtown project:
- Sidewalk and shoulder closures will continue throughout the project.
- A one-lane closure is expected at East 9th Street and 10th Street as crews pour concrete on the northwest corner for curb ramps.
- Other concrete pours include both the northeast and southeast corners of 4th Street and the northeast corner of 2nd Street.
- The installation of brick pavers is expected at 2nd, 5th and 4th Streets.
- Upgrades to the signal at 6th Street and Harrison Avenue will continue with the installation of new traffic signal poles on the east side. Travelers can expect a one-lane closure on Monday and possibly Tuesday at this intersection as work commences.
3-Way Stop Comes to Full Closure at Mountain View Drive
The other stoplight showdown has only just begun at the Safeway intersection. The new signal at Mountain View Drive is being constructed by Technology Constructors, Inc. and overseen by Leadville City Administrator Sarah Dallas in partnership with the Railyard @ Leadville property owners. In the coming weeks, signal poles will be erected at Mountain View Drive, during which times travelers will encounter full intersection closures. While there’s no word on what the plan is for a detour or how long the traffic stops will last, according to a media alert distributed by CDOT, “if you would like to request notification of these closures, as exact dates and times are currently undetermined, please contact the project information manager as follows:”
I-70’s Vail Pass to See Improvements in 2021
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced yesterday June 18, 2020, that it has been awarded a $60.7 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for significant improvements to Vail Pass on I-70.
The funding will be used to construct an estimated $140.4 million project including an eastbound auxiliary lane, reconstructing the eastbound bridge over Polk Creek, shoulder widening, eastbound and westbound curve modifications, reconstruction of a truck ramp, dynamic message signs, a variable speed limit system, wildlife crossings, automated anti-icing technologies and will relocate two miles of the recreation path that is currently next to I-70. These improvements will take place on I-70 on the west side of Vail Pass, between Mile Points 180 and 190 in Eagle County.
Vail Pass is a dramatic and challenging section of I-70 in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Completed in 1979, the pass as we know it has struggled to keep up with Colorado’s growing population and traffic, while still serving as an important connection in Colorado and the nation’s transportation network. Vail Pass is also subject to extreme weather and nature’s harshest elements. The resulting wear and tear and challenging driving conditions come at a cost: the crash rate on Vail Pass is the highest for all of I-70, per million vehicle miles traveled, with 558 crashes from 2014 to 2016. The INFRA grant will help save taxpayer dollars by helping reduce accidents and prevent costly detours. The estimated economic impact for detours is $1 million for every hour I-70 is closed.
“We appreciate the support of our Congressional delegation in helping us to secure funding for this tremendously important project — critical for commuters, travelers and the safe passage of freight through our beautiful I-70 mountain corridor, said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “One of the core strategies of our state’s transportation plan is to focus investments on key arteries that move people and goods through our economy, like I-70. This grant will help us achieve that vision.”
From Your Representatives
“I-70 and Vail Pass, in particular, serve as an important gateway to outdoor recreation like hiking, biking, and skiing, and as a vital connector for trucks and freight movement,” said Sen. Michael Bennet. “I’m glad DOT has awarded CDOT this grant to make important safety upgrades and reduce the number of closures of West Vail Pass due to inclement weather and vehicle crashes. This $60.7 million grant is welcome news for Eagle and Summit Counties, and all who travel on I-70 to access outdoor recreation and our mountain communities.”
“Interstate 70 is an important economic driver in our state, but I’ve heard from countless Coloradans who are frustrated with congestion, unsafe driving conditions, and frequent closures due to weather events,” said Senator Cory Gardner. “That’s why I advocated for this funding to improve I-70 and am proud to have helped secure this grant of more than $60 million to improve the infrastructure that millions of Coloradans rely on. This funding will help facilitate improvements aimed at reducing the number of road closures and delays, making commutes more reliable and greatly improving the quality of life for the Western Slope.”
“I-70 is a key economic driver in the State of Colorado and a gateway to the recreation and tourism opportunities in Summit and Eagle Counties and mountain communities across the 2nd Congressional District,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “However, we know too well that West Vail Pass is prone to closures due to weather events, as well as spin outs and crashes. Investments in safety and reliability in the I-70 corridor is essential to keep Coloradans safe and to continue to connect travelers east and west of the Continental Divide. I am grateful to see funding awarded to these projects, and look forward to continuing to advocate for Colorado’s highways and safety.”
CDOT applied for the grant in coordination with the Intermountain, Gunnison Valley, and Northwest Transportation Planning Regions (TPR), and the Grand Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)/TPR. CDOT will provide a match to the INFRA grant of $79.7 million for a total cost of $140.4 million. Construction could begin as early as summer 2021.
Yielding: On The Floor, In The Garden, On The Road
By CSP Master Trooper Gary Cutler
The word “Yield” has many meanings throughout the English language. You can yield to the next speaker, or the land can yield food from the garden. But today I bring up yield as in the road sign.
Too often I find that drivers treat a yield sign as a free for all to go through intersections or turns onto other roads without even slowing. A yield sign allows a driver to reduce speed instead of having to come to a complete stop. Call a yield sign a small-time saver. But remember, it doesn’t mean you may not have to come to a complete stop if necessary to yield right of way to any traffic on the roadway you are going to cross or enter.
So, when approaching a yield sign it means slowing to a reasonable speed, which allows you the ability to ascertain what is happening in the area. Ask yourself, did you give yourself enough time to accurately see if traffic is coming? Are there any pedestrians using the crosswalks? Do you have an acceleration lane or does it go directly into the lane of travel?
In my opinion, a good speed for a yield sign is quite often what I see when someone rolls through a stop sign. So quick refresher there. Stop at a stop sign, and slow roll through the yield sign if it’s safe to do so.
Are you aware that when entering a roadway, that to do it safely and legally, you cannot alter the other vehicles’ pathway? This means causing them to slow from the speed they were going. Make sure you can get your vehicle up to the speed limit prior to another car coming up behind you as you enter that new road.
Now let’s talk about what to do when an intersection has flashing yellow lights. This is another area I’ve seen drivers never even slow their speed when going through the intersection. This is highly dangerous. You need to know if the lights have malfunctioned and are showing yellow in all directions or if the road crossing your path is flashing red. Either way, those flashing lights require a driver to slow to a reasonable and safe speed to be able to once again ascertain how safe it is to proceed through the intersection.
“I now yield the floor.”
As always, safe travels!
Leadville Today Contributor and Master Trooper Gary Cutler is a Public Information Officer for the Colorado State Patrol.
The Osprey Return to Turquoise Lake