The Final Stretch of Interstate 70 is Opened to Traffic in Colorado

The last leg of Interstate 70 (I-70) was officially inaugurated in the vicinity of Glenwood Canyon in western Colorado on October 14, 1992. This final stretch of I-70 to make its debut is a 12-mile (19-kilometer) portion that follows the contours of Glenwood Canyon along the Colorado River and encompasses the No Name Tunnel, Hanging Lake Tunnel, and Reverse Curve Tunnel. Approximately 2,000 people gathered at the Hanging Lake Tunnel to attend the dedication ceremony for the newly opened section.

The public officials taking part in this Wednesday ceremony included Colorado Governor Roy Romer and Federal Highway Administrator Thomas Larson. They each used the opportunity to highlight how that section of I-70 in the Centennial State had been designed to help protect local wildlife habitats and the surrounding natural scenery.

Romer said that this highway project demonstrated that “we can have it both ways.” He further noted, “We can preserve the environment of the past, create architectural monuments of the present and set an example of how to do it in the future.” Larson said, “This project proves that desirable environmental goals and great engineering feats can be mutually compatible.”

Lew Sturm, deputy regional director of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), oversaw that construction project. During the same week in which the dedication ceremony for the segment took place, Sturm was presented with the governor’s award for peak performance in state government because of his efforts on behalf of the project. “I want to dedicate the award to the CDOT staff, the consultants and the contractors who made this project work,” said Sturm. “They’re the ones who made me look real good.”

I-70 in its entirety courses through 10 states altogether. This highway specifically covers a total of 2,151 miles (3,462 kilometers) between Utah and Maryland. Colorado, containing 451 miles (726 kilometers) of I-70 within its borders, has the largest share of that highway. The state’s portion of I-70 also includes the highest point of the Interstate Highway System. That point is the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel, which is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) west of Denver and as high as 11,158 feet (3,401 meters) above sea level.

Photo Credit: Terabass (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en)

For more information on the history of Interstate 70 in Colorado, please check out https://www.codot.gov/about/CDOTHistory/50th-anniversary/interstate-70

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