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I-70 West Vail Pass Project

I-70 West Vail Pass Project Enters Winter Shutdown, Promises Improved Safety and Efficiency

VAIL, COLORADO – The I-70 West Vail Pass Auxiliary Lanes project, a pivotal part of Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) statewide 10-year plan, has entered its scheduled winter hiatus as of December 8, 2023. This marks a significant milestone in the multi-year initiative aimed at enhancing safety and reducing traffic congestion on one of the state’s busiest mountain corridors.

Winter Traffic Adjustments and Safety

With the onset of winter, I-70 will revert to its standard lane configuration to facilitate smooth winter tourism travel, along with efficient snow removal and maintenance operations. Motorists traveling in the area are advised to drive cautiously, especially given the unpredictable winter weather and road conditions. The Vail Pass recreation path, a popular feature for outdoor enthusiasts, will see weather-dependent conditions, with regular maintenance resuming in late spring.

Major Accomplishments and Future Outlook

The completion of the new westbound I-70 bridge over Polk Creek at Mile Point 185.2 is a key achievement of the project. This bridge, now open to traffic, boasts improved curve geometry to match modern highway speeds, three lanes, standard-width shoulders, and an extended lifespan of 100 years. It enhances emergency response capabilities and lays the groundwork for future lane expansions.

Another significant accomplishment is the reconstruction of the emergency truck ramp at Mile Point 182, which has been straightened to improve safety for truck drivers. Additionally, the Vail Pass recreation path has been relocated and improved for a safer and more enjoyable experience.

Aerial view of the I-70 bridges at Mile Point 185. The new westbound bridge is seen on the right side prior to opening to traffic. Photo Courtesy of CDOT.

2024 Construction Season and Beyond

Looking ahead, the project will resume in spring 2024, focusing on the construction of the eastbound I-70 bridge and the eastbound auxiliary lane. This phase aims to provide a dedicated lane for slower-moving vehicles over the steep grades of Vail Pass, thereby improving travel consistency along this vital corridor. Moreover, the project plans to introduce six wildlife underpasses to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, with accompanying fencing along strategic highway sections.

Stay Informed and Prepared

Travelers and residents are encouraged to stay informed about the project and road conditions. Resources include the project information line (970.688.8233), email communication (, and the project website ( Additionally, real-time road conditions and travel information can be accessed via and the COtrip Planner app.

As the project progresses, CDOT reaffirms its commitment to enhancing the safety and efficiency of I-70, ensuring it remains a vital and reliable artery for Colorado’s transportation network.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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