As summer getaway season begins, travelers taking to highways to explore Colorado’s enticing offerings inevitably will run into the universal buzz kill: cone zones.
On the Front Range and across the state, the summer is bringing plenty more lane closures and other slowdowns due to construction projects both major and minor.
All told, the Colorado Department of Transportation says it has 233 projects planned this year on highways it maintains statewide, including about $200 million in resurfacing work and $30 million budgeted for maintenance activities.
Though CDOT is suspending some construction around holidays — including statewide during Memorial Day weekend — here are the major projects to watch for. For several, traffic disruption is expected mostly during overnight hours.
To see current road work on state highways, check COtrip.org.
In the Denver metro area
- I-70 expansion: The $1.2 billion Central 70 project through northeast Denver and Aurora is adding a tolled express lane in each direction on 10 miles of Interstate 70 from I-25 to Chambers Road, with completion set for 2022. Watch for delays: While slowdowns are possible from lane shifts, the most significant impact — from occasional full closures — is set for nights and weekends.
- I-25 express lanes extension: CDOT’s expansion of Interstate 25 north of Denver, extending existing tolled express lanes from 112th Avenue to the E-470/Northwest Parkway interchange, is expected to wrap up in mid-2020. Watch for delays: Nighttime lane closures are planned, but narrower lanes and lower speed limits are affecting daytime traffic, too.
- C-470 expansion: The $276 million multiyear project to add tolled express lanes to C-470 for more than 12 miles west of I-25, and to repave the highway, is expected to wrap up by fall. Watch for delays: Overnight closures with detours have been necessary for some work.
- I-25 bridge repairs: CDOT contractors in April began a structural-repair project for 12 bridges that are part of the I-25 interchanges with Interstate 76 and I-70 (the Mousetrap), with completion set for October. Watch for delays: Work is planned for overnight hours, with some lane closures and detours.
Elsewhere along the Front Range
- I-25 South Gap: The $350 million project, to add a tolled express lane in each direction and repave an 18-mile stretch of I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock, is will continue through 2022. Watch for delays: Lane closures are planned at night, but narrowed lanes and lower speed limits affect traffic during the day.
- I-25 North: A similar $330 million express-lanes widening project is underway on 14 miles of I-25 north of the metro area, between Fort Collins and Johnstown. Watch for delays: Lane closures are possible at night.
- I-25 through Pueblo: A multiyear widening and reconstruction project on I-25 through Pueblo in southern Colorado is nearly complete, with repaving taking place through mid-June. Watch for delays: Speed limits are reduced and traffic is down to a single lane in each direction.
- I-25 south of Pueblo: Through October, repaving and bridge repairs are underway on 12 miles of I-25 just south of Pueblo. Watch for delays: Minimal daytime delays are expected.
Mountains and Eastern Plains
- New I-70 mountain express lane: Mirroring a three-year-old tolled shoulder express lane on eastbound I-70, a new 12-mile express lane will begin construction in early July, with resurfacing and partial widening between the Veterans Memorial Tunnels and Empire. Once complete late next year, the tolled lane — costing about $70 million — will be open only during peak periods. Watch for delays: Most work will occur behind barriers, but overnight lane closures are possible.
- I-70 resurfacing in Eagle County: Through October, resurfacing, guardrail replacement and other maintenance is planned along 6 miles of I-70 between Avon and Vail, with work hours between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. Watch for delays: At night, reduced speeds are in effect and one lane is open in each direction.
- Flood-damage repairs: Two projects northwest of Denver are repairing damage from the 2013 floods — along 15 miles of Colorado 119, through Boulder Canyon, and along 13 miles of Colorado 72 through Coal Creek Canyon. Both are set to wrap next year. Watch for delays: Work will occur during the day on both projects, with some alternating lane closures. Colorado 119 will have some full closures for rock blasting, but work won’t occur on weekends.
- Colorado 7 near Estes Park: Through October, crews are resurfacing 12 miles of Colorado 7 south of Estes Park, repairing flood damage and adding bike lanes along part of that stretch. Watch for delays: Daytime single-lane closures and 30-minute full closures are possible.
- I-70 repaving on Eastern Plains: Through October, a repaving project is active along 16 miles of I-70, in a work zone that begins about 20 miles east of Limon. Watch for delays: Daytime lane closures are possible.
- U.S. 160 near Mesa Verde: A resurfacing project begins after Memorial Day for 22 miles of U.S. 160 east of Cortez in southwestern Colorado, with completion expected in August. The stretch is used to access Mesa Verde National Park. Watch for delays: Daytime work will include occasional single-lane closures and reduced speeds.
- Colorado 145 near Telluride: Through December, a roughly 1-mile-long widening project will add a southbound passing lane and improve shoulders on the access highway to the popular mountain town. Watch for delays: Frequent daytime lane closures will result in alternating single-lane traffic, but the project will be suspended around holidays and tourist-heavy events.