IDAHO SPRINGS - At the Idaho Springs Visitor Center and Museum, Executive Director of the Idaho Springs Historical Society Nancy Johnson and the staff are in the information business.
"We are prepared for lots of questions," Johnson said.
Right now they're focused on the future ready to talk about a big change for Idaho Springs and Interstate 70.
"We are prepared for lots of visitors to be stopping into the visitor center," Johnson said.
It's all thanks to an upcoming I-70 construction project that Tony De Vito with Colorado Department of Transportation says is sure to impact a lot of drivers this summer.
"We have to get rid of that two lane tunnel with no shoulder," Vito said.
To fix a notorious traffic choke point at the Twin Tunnels, CDOT is widening eastbound I-70 to three lanes east of Idaho Springs, basically boring a new tunnel there.
"Keep the inside wall of the tunnel and widen to the creek side," Vito said.
Starting April 1, eastbound I-70 will be closed for at least seven months. CDOT will funnel interstate traffic onto a frontage road, which will mean big backups and major delays.
Another element that will slow traffic in both directions will be blasting. Once underway, when crews are blasting both directions of I-70 will be shut down. Blasting will occur several times a day.
Nancy Johnson says despite the backups and slow speeds, the tunnel project is a good thing. Not only will it improve traffic flow, but she says it will give the museum and information center a brand new chapter in Idaho Springs' history.
Between now and April 1, there will be lane closures in both the east and westbound lanes of I-70 at the tunnel. Then in early February, CDOT will start preparatory blasting.
That work is scheduled to begin next week and continue about every three days.
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