SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — Bob Fifer, deputy director of operations at the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), and his staff are about to make history at the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel.
CDOT will move its control room inside the Eisenhower-Johnson tunnel — the nerve center for the past 50 years — to a new state-of-the-art facility next to the tunnel.
CDOT’s tunnel operations have been in the same room since the tunnel opened, and a lot of the equipment is almost as old. The department is updating in an effort to keep traffic flowing better at the tunnel and reduce closure times.
“We are pushing forward,” Fifer said. “We can’t build our way out of these highways, so what we need to look at [is], how do we better operate our highways?”
The new facility is just west of the tunnel and will be filled with technological upgrades to CDOT's safety systems, monitors and fiber-optic lines.
“You’re going from the old, standard-def TV to the high-def, 4K TV,” Fifer sadi. “To do that, you have to modernize all the devices, all the systems, and digitize it.”
The new building will have space for employees to sleep when bad weather closes roads in the mountains. Additionally, the desks where employees sit have small heaters to keep their hands warm while working high atop the Continental Divide, and those employees will watch monitors that show a lot more information than before.
“We can see weather come in, we can see the news, we can see video with the idea that we can have quick response so the tunnel stays open longer,” Fifer said.
The updated technology will also allow CDOT to save money on maintenance, energy and space. A monitor system in their Golden control room cost about $4 million, but the system in the new Eisenhower-Johnson tunnel control room cost around $200,000.
CDOT said it hopes to make the switch from the old control room to the new one in October.
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