A grand opening ceremony to celebrate completion of the I-70 Vail Underpass will take place on Friday, Oct. 13 to mark the official opening of the roadway. Members of the community are invited to join federal, state and local officials for lunch and a ribbon cutting ceremony. The activities will take place at noon beneath the new underpass. There is no parking available at the project site so Town of Vail shuttle buses will loop from the Lionshead parking structure and Donovan Park beginning at 11:30 a.m. to bring participants to the event. Bicyclists and pedestrians are asked to follow signs and traffic controllers to the ceremony. In case of inclement weather, the celebration will be relocated to Donovan Pavilion.
During the ceremony, representatives from the Federal Highway Administration, Colorado Department of Transportation, Town of Vail, Kraemer North America and other partners will be acknowledged.
The new $30.1 million underpass uses roundabouts to connect Vail’s neighborhoods along the north and south frontage roads. It also provides for improved emergency access, safe and convenient crossings for pedestrians and bicyclists and eases congestion at the roundabout interchanges in West Vail and Town Center. A public art installation made of Corten steel sponsored by the town’s Art in Public Places encircles the project’s south side and functions as a headlight glare screen. The project also features significant landscaping, improvements to the recreation path and extensive stone work on the retaining walls. An accelerated construction schedule resulted in completion of the project ahead of time and on budget.
Representing Vail’s largest infrastructure project, to date, the underpass is the culmination of more than 25 years of planning, plus five years of design, funding coordination and construction. It was formally identified in 1993 as part of the Vail Transportation Master Plan to address congestion at the original four-way stop intersections at the Vail interchanges. Final funding approvals occurred in the spring of 2015 with major construction beginning in March 2016.
Vail Mayor Dave Chapin says the project has been worth the wait and he’s eager to begin seeing traffic flowing through it. “The ease of travel for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians will connect our community in so many ways,” he said. “We can’t thank everyone enough for their patience during the construction process and we commend the construction management team for their tremendous coordination in getting the work done ahead of schedule and on budget.”
Kraemer North America served as the project’s general contractor and was commended for their work building the underpass over the last two years. The construction team, along with numerous sub-contractors, successfully balanced impacts to the public with productivity and schedule. The construction team was also recognized for their commitment to safety while delivering the high-quality final product.
For former Vail Mayor Andy Daly, the celebration brings closure to a collaboration that has included representatives from Simba Run, Savoy Villas, Cascade and other adjacent properties, as well as state and federal officials. “This project, more than any other during my tenure as mayor, represents how this community can come together for the greater good,” he said. “It required extensive listening, evaluation of options and lots of give-and-take by everyone involved. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Following the celebration, the underpass will officially open to traffic later in the afternoon. For additional details, call the project hotline at 970-685-7706.
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Program
- Identified in Vail Transportation Master Plan, 1993
- Feasibility and design joint CDOT/TOV partnership, 2012
- Project received RAMP (Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships) funding, October 2013
- Formation of Project Leadership Team and key stakeholder involvement, November 2013
- Impacted properties complete required federal process and express preference to forego noise walls, February 2015
- Final funding approval, spring 2015
- Escalating construction costs and design refinements increased the project’s cost estimate by 40 percent from an earlier estimate, causing the Vail Town Council to increase its funding allocation from $6 million to $8.7 million, while the Colorado Transportation Commission agreed to increase CDOT’s funding allocation from the original $14.8 million to $21.4 million for a total project budget of $30.1 million
- Bid award to Kraemer, North America, fall 2015
- Ground breaking, spring 2016
- Significant completion, Oct. 13, 2017