I-70 Expansion—Toll Lanes and Cap Park Included—Wrapping Up in Denver

The Central 70 Project is well underway in Denver, with a public-private partnership completing major changes to the interstate freeway where it cuts through the city.

2 minute read

June 16, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Toll lanes are under construction and running tests along Interstate 70 in Denver as a component of the Central 70 Project, according to an article by Paolo Zialcita for Denverite.

The project calls for 10 miles of express lanes through central Denver in addition to the removal of a 57-year-old viaduct between Brighton and Colorado boulevards and the addition of a four-acre park, explains Zialcita.

The project is expected to cost $1.2 billion and wrap up by the end of 2022. Drivers can expect to see operation toll lanes at the beginning of 2023. In the meantime, “Tolls along the route will be waived during the test, and the group behind the work is encouraging drivers to take advantage of free access so it can identify problems,” reports Zialcita.

According to August 2021 coverage of the Central 70 Project by Nancy Kristoff for ENR Mountain States, the Central 70 Project represents a big bet on public-private partnerships. The Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado Transportation Investment Office, the Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise, and Kiewit Meridiam Partners are working together on the project.

Kristoff also provides a little more detail about the forthcoming freeway cap:

The project adds one new express toll lane in each direction and removes a 57-year-old, 1.8-mile-long viaduct, replacing it with a lowered highway that includes a 1,000-foot-long cap—a covered portion of the highway that will be the site of a four-acre park to help reconnect neighborhoods long divided by the freeway. 

The Colorado Department of Transportation touts the benefits of the project in terms of congestion relief (a prediction that should be taken with a grain of salt), reduced noise impacts on surrounding neighborhoods, the replacement of structurally deficient sections of the freeway, and the reconnection of neighborhoods with the cap park. The project was controversial, however, for environmental and social reasons. Local organizations protested the project well after federal approval was granted the project, as detailed in Planetizen coverage in Spring 2017.

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