I-70 project in Denver wraps up demolition of old highway span

The nearly two-mile Interstate 70 viaduct that towered over Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood for decades is now gone, the result of a four-month demolition operation that took down more than 52,000 cubic yards of concrete and 1,000 tons of steel.

Crews on the Central 70 project were expected Friday to finish tearing down the last part of the elevated span near the Union Pacific Railroad crossing, project spokeswoman Stacia Sellers said.

The demolition has been the noisiest stage of the nearly $1.3 billion project, rattling nearby homes and blowing dust blocks away despite crews’ efforts to limit the impact. The project, which broke ground three years ago, entered a new phase in late May when both directions of I-70 traffic were shifted to new highway lanes built north of the viaduct between Brighton and Colorado boulevards, allowing for the 57-year-old viaduct’s removal.

Crews will continue digging southward to expand the new recessed highway to its final width. Until then, the eventual westbound side is accomodating both directions of traffic in a tight configuration.

The demolition included the use of up to 18 excavators working simultaneously at different locations, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Dump trucks carried away about 4,500 loads of debris for recycling, Sellers said.

The overall project will result in an expanded I-70 between Interstate 25 and Chambers Road in Aurora, with a new tolled express lane added in each direction. East of Colorado Boulevard, the project is mostly complete.

The most recent project update from the contracting team, Kiewit-Meridiam Partners, shows schedule gains that have overcome some previous delays. It’s on track to reach the “substantial completion” milestone in December 2022.

Kiewit Construction recently won an extension of its city noise variance through the end of the project.

The project’s most prominent component will take shape in the next year as crews install a 4-acre park over the highway next to Swansea Elementary. About half of that “cap” is in place now, with drivers passing through a 1,000-foot tunnel built with several safety systems.

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