DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will close westbound Interstate 70 for a traffic shift in the heart of Denver this weekend.
The traffic shift will close westbound I-70 between Interstate 270 and Brighton Boulevard from Friday, Aug. 26 at 10 p.m. until Monday, Aug. 29 at 5 a.m.
The on-ramps to westbound I-70 between Quebec Street and Brighton Boulevard will also be closed this weekend.
On Monday, Aug. 29, motorists will be driving in the new, permanent alignment, completing the final traffic shift and major construction activities on I-70.
This final shift is taking place the same month that the Central 70 Project celebrates its fourth anniversary of the start of construction.
CDOT said crews need to remove the temporary jersey barrier that once separated westbound and eastbound traffic in its temporary configuration in the westbound bore of the tunnel. Crews also will place the final lift of asphalt on westbound I-70 between Colorado and Brighton boulevards.
“We want to thank the traveling public for their patience as this monumental project nears completion,” said Bob Hays, CDOT Central 70 project director.
The Central 70 Project's first major shift, also known as the "Mile High Shift," occurred in May 2021, when CDOT moved all six lanes of I-70 traffic between Brighton Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard from a viaduct to a lowered section of road. The traffic configuration marked a new chapter in Colorado’s history, with the interstate moving 30 feet below ground.
The Central 70 Project, which broke ground in 2018, is reconstructing a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 70, adding one new Express Lane in each direction, removing the aging 56-year-old viaduct and lowering the interstate between Brighton and Colorado Boulevards.
CDOT said traffic should be in its final configuration by late 2022 with landscaping, installation of park elements and additional items continuing through 2023.
Businesses look forward the end of construction
9NEWS has spoken with several businesses in the Eleryia-Swansea neighborhood that say they have had to adapt to the construction of I-70, especially over the course of the last year.
“With the access changing weekly -- it seems like one road or another road is always changing or being closed – so with that being said, finding the way to get here is always different every time," said Shawn Williams who owns Hard Knocks Tattoo Parlor. “In the long run, the bigger picture, is it’s going to be great for Colorado, but in the last couple years it’s been horrible for a small business like mine."
The neighboring business, Imagen Beauty Salon, shared a similar sentiment.
In May of 2021, when the viaduct over I-70 was torn down, 9NEWS spoke to Lilia Uribe, the owner of Panaderia Juanitas.
On Friday, Uribe shared that since then, business has started to go back as construction continues but by only around 5 to 10 percent.
“We’ve been losing a lot of business the whole year – it’s getting a little better but still kind of bad," she said.
The business has been owned by her and her husband for 25 years, and says it's everything to them.
"Because that’s our life, our job, that’s how we support my family – the bills – and everything in the house – it’s everything," she said, adding she has a second job to help keep the business running.
She believes in part, that her customers had a hard time accessing her business due to the shift of the road closures surrounding her business.
Overall, she's hopeful for the future, but hopes the public doesn't forget about small businesses like hers.
“We’ve been here a long time and we need to eat too," she said.
In July, a spokesperson for CDOT said that the Central 70 Project cannot provide compensation for lost revenue or rent unless access is restricted to the point that it's virtually impossible to conduct daily operations or welcome in customers.
"Throughout viaduct demolition activities during the summer of 2021, we met with businesses along 46th Avenue every day unless otherwise told from businesses to keep a pulse on how they were doing during this impactful work that closed roads near their buildings," a statement read in part. "Through these visits, we heard the need for some type of funding for these businesses to support them through construction and after so that everyone will be able to reap the benefits of the future park and keep their doors open."
The spokesperson added that they partnered with businesses along 46th Avenue to provide coupon books offering $5 off at each business, along with a map of all the store locations.
The Central 70 Project also offered an interior cleaning service to address the dust some business owners were seeing in their stores during demolition.
"We take our relationships with these businesses and residents seriously," the statement read. "Our bilingual community liaisons have all shared their personal numbers with the businesses and are available if there are any concerns."
More information on the $1.2 billion project is available at Central70.CDOT.gov. Motorists can use COtrip.org or CDOT’s COtrip Planner mobile app to plan alternate routes.
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