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IDAHO SPRINGS - Starting on Tuesday, the Colorado Department of Transportation is beginning work to widen the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 at the Twin Tunnels.

To do that, the westbound lanes will be shifted to the eastbound side.

Those heading to Colorado's high country can expect travel delays and should plan for extra time beginning Monday evening when I-70 traffic is put in a head-to-head configuration through the westbound tunnel bore. Lane closures and traffic impacts will continue until Wednesday when westbound traffic is moved.

Once both directions of I-70 are shifted and traffic is no longer moving through the westbound tunnel bore, crews can begin tunnel blasting and rock face blasting work. Blasting activities require stopping traffic in both directions and motorists can expect extended delays when this work occurs.

The blasting schedule for the Westbound Twin Tunnels project will be aggressive and may cause heavy delays. Those traveling along the I-70 mountain corridor in both directions should anticipate longer travel times and plan accordingly.

The Westbound I-70 Twin Tunnels project is part of a package of improvements designed to ease congestion on the I-70 mountain corridor.

This $55 million project will widen the westbound tunnel bore in Idaho Springs to accommodate a future third westbound lane, but will not add a third highway lane at this time. With resources still in place from the 2013 project that widened the eastbound tunnel, it is estimated that doing this work now will save $5 million to $7 million.

The new tunnel is scheduled to open to traffic by the end of this year and project completion is scheduled for the summer of 2015 when restoration work is finished on County Road 314.

Big switch, delays at Twin Tunnels. 9NEWS at 6 p.m. 04/01/14.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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