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Summit County: Should hazmat trucks use I-70?

Installation of fire suppression system in the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnels could spur discussion on hazmat routing


Hazmat routes are ubiquitous along Colorado’s major highways.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — With $25 million in funding secured for a long-sought fire suppression system in the I-70 Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnels, a debate over hazmat routing through Summit County could heat up again. In a first step, CDOT will start a process to update the 1980s-era rules for the tunnel, potentially opening the door to a petition process that could result in changes to the hazmat route.

Currently, gasoline tankers and nearly all other hazardous materials are routed via U.S. Highway 6 over windy Loveland Pass, where tankers frequently roll over and spill fuel. Most truckers would prefer to haul their flammable, toxic and explosive materials through the tunnel and down I-70 to save time and money, but local emergency responders aren’t sure if the change makes sense from a public safety standpoint.

“This is going to require some very careful evaluation,” said Summit County emergency services director Joel Cochran, acknowledging that there have already been some behind-the-scenes discussions among some stakeholders. Continue reading

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Colorado ramps up for another big I-70 project


CDOT planning major highway improvements in 2014.

Peak-period shoulder toll lane to ease eastbound congestion; CDOT hopes to finish the work by 2015

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — As soon as they finish with the current I-70 construction around the Twin Tunnel segment, Colorado Department of Transportation engineers will set their sights on another project aimed at easing eastbound traffic congestion on the busy Colorado east-west interstate.

A nine-mile section of peak-period shoulder lanes from Empire Junction to the Twin Tunnels could loosen up Sunday afternoon traffic jams by providing three lanes from the junction all the way back to Denver, said CDOT mountain corridor manager Jim Bemelen.

The estimated cost for improving the shoulders is about $30 million, and funding for the project has been approved as part of a statewide $560 million slate of upgrades under the Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships (RAMP) program, announced by Gov. John Hickenlooper and CDOT director Don Hunt this week. Continue reading

Colorado: $10 million grant to help fund I-70 tunnel fire suppression system


The east portal of the Eisenhower and Johnson Memorial tunnels near Loveland Ski Area.

Automated sprinklers could help avert a serious catastrophe

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A $10 million dollar grant will help the Colorado Department of Transportation install a long-sought fire suppression system in the Eisenhower and Johnson Memorial Tunnels along I-70.

Colorado’s congressional delegation was unified last year in seeking support for the grant. All nine members of the state’s elected delegation in Washington signed a Feb. 6 letter asking the Obama administration to dedicate $20 million in the 2013 budget to pay for a fire suppression system. Continue reading

Colorado: Spring storm packs a punch

Resorts reporting powder conditions, but road conditions could hamper access, while the backcountry avalanche danger soars


An active northern jet stream is bringing cold air and moisture to the northern tier of states, including Colorado. On and off snow is possible through the weekend.


The CAIC is reporting numerous backcountry avalanches. Click here for more photos.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — March is living up to its reputation as the snowiest month in the Colorado high country, with chilly spring storm snarling roads, intensifying avalanche danger and adding much-needed moisture to the state’s snowpack.

Ski areas around the state are generally reporting up to 12 inches of new snow in the past few days, and moderate to heavy snow continued falling Saturday morning. Some of the heaviest totals are expected east of the Continental Divide, where the California Department of Transportation reported bumper-to-bumper traffic around I-70 and C-470.

East of Denver, I-70 was closed to the Kansas border, and slick conditions on the westbound approach to the mountains prompted CDOT to require chains, snow tires or four-wheel drive for all vehicles in Mt. Vernon Canyon, just west of Denver.

Continue reading

Colorado: I-70 traffic stop turns into drug bust

Investigators found more than eight pounds of cocaine in a car headed from California to Denver.

Investigators found more than eight pounds of cocaine in a car headed from California to Denver. Photo courtesy Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

Arrest warrants issued for two men transporting cocaine and methamphetamine

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —Local law enforcement officials have issued arrest warrants for two California residents suspected of transporting drugs along the I-70 corridor after a Feb. 12 traffic stop.

An initial search of the vehicles with drug-sniffing dogs detected controlled substances in the center console area and underneath the rear seats. The vehicle was impounded until a search warrant could be executed and sheriff’s deputies gave the men a courtesy ride to hotel.

After getting a warrant, the subsequent search of the car “yielded the large cache of narcotics,” according to District Attorney Bruce Brown. Continue reading

CDOT launches smart phone app for I-70

A map page on the smart phone I-70 app shows your exact location along the corridor.

Travel times, delays and more info aims to ease the ski-traffic crunch

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Stakeholders along the I-70 corridor are hoping to ease ski traffic with a combination of measures, including better communication with travelers, and a new smart phone app could be one piece of that puzzle.

The Colorado Department of Transportation says the new CDOT Mobile app  will make critical information such as highway conditions and traffic information more accessible, dynamic and interactive.

CDOT Mobile will enable users to make better decisions about travel mode and route, resulting in a more productive, safe and efficient transportation system. Continue reading

Colorado: Input sought on I-70 Twin Tunnels plan

Public meeting set for July 25 in Idaho Springs

Straightening some of the tight turns along I-70 east of the Twin Tunnels should improve traffic flow and safety.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — As the Colorado Department of Transportation forges ahead with a plan to add a new eastbound bore to the Twin Tunnels along I-70, the agency wants some public comment.

In addition to commenting online, residents and I-70 travelers are invited to a July 25 public meeting in Idaho Springs to get an informational update from CDOT experts and to offer comments in person. The meeting is from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Clear Creek County School District Office, 320 State Highway 103.

The Twin Tunnel improvements are the first step in a far-reaching plan to ease congestion and improve safety along the I-70 corridor. With limited funds, CDOT is looking to make changes where they’ll do the most good. The improvements could be done in time for the 2013-2014 ski season. Continue reading

Welcome to Summit County’s open-air dump

I-70 rest stop needs some TLC

This garbage was neatly bagged and placed deliberately on the sidewalk at the westbound I-70 scenic overlook, probably in hopes that someone else would pick it up — which I did. The contents were typical travel fare: Kids’s juice boxes, fast-food wrappers and so on.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — After an early morning trek along Straight Creek with some volunteers monitoring forest regeneration, I drove back to Frisco via I-70 to avoid the cyclists on the Dam Road. Almost every time I go this way, I make a short stop at the I-70 scenic overlook, just because it offers such a stunning view of the county.

Most locals probably don’t stop there very often, if at all. After all, why would you stop in the middle of a short three mile commute between Frisco and Dillon, unless you’re a photography freak like me?

But I know that, for many visitors and passers-through, this spot is the very first stop they make in the county and we all know about first impressions. So it’s a mystery to me why there is still no garbage receptacle at the rest area — and it’s a mystery to many of the travelers I’ve spoken with there over the years.

I wrote a story about this for the Summit Daily back in 1996 or 1997 early in my stint as an earnest cub reporter, reporting that nobody — not the county, nor CDOT or any of the local towns — wanted to take on the burden of maintaining a trash facility at this spot. It’s Summit County’s little Bermuda Triangle of trash, and it’s  kind of sad to see that nothing has changed in all those years. Continue reading

Colorado: Lane closures and delays along I-70, as CDOT improves traffic signage, plans for new Twin Tunnels bore

New info signs going up; inspections and survey work at the Twin Tunnels

Eastbound I-70 travelers will some lane closures and delays between Silverthorne and Idaho Springs the next few weeks.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — It could be tough going on and off for eastbound travelers on I-70 between Silverthorne and Denver this week, as the Colorado Department of Transportation adds electronic traffic information signs and works on the eastbound bore of the Twin Tunnels, near Idaho Springs.

The inspection and survey work in the tunnel is in preparation for a major project next year that would add a third lane at the highway chokepoint. One lane of I-70 will remain closed through June 8. CDOT expects the lane closure to be lifted by 10 a.m. and drivers should anticipate delays approaching the tunnel, especially during daytime hours. Traffic stops may also take place during night hours. Continue reading

Colorado: Haz-mat spill closes I-70 in Summit County

I-70 between Frisco and Silverthorne closed due to haz-mat spill.

Westbound lane reopens; cleanup under way along eastbound lane 

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Interstate 70 through Summit County closed in both directions Wednesday morning after a truck spilled a load of about 400 pounds of hydrated lime.

The highway is closed eastbound between Frisco and Silverthorne with detour routes along the Dillon Dam Road or over Swan Mountain Road. Officials estimated the closure could last four to eight hours.

The material is used in construction and soil stabilization, among other things, according to Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue spokesman Steve Lipsher. A local haz-mat crew is at the scene cleaning up the spill and a Colorado State Patrol haz-mat unit has also been alerted, Lipsher said.

The substance isn’t considered a huge public health threat but cleanup crews are wearing full haz-mat gear while they sweep up the powdered material. A main goal is to make sure that none of the substances washes off the road and into local waterways with any subsequent rainstorms, Lipsher said.

The spill doesn’t pose a serious threat to surrounding communities, but Lipsher said it’s not something you want to breathe in or get on your skin.


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