U.S. Department of Transportation’s Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Brandye Hendrickson participates in the groundbreaking ceremony for Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Central 70 project.

Today, I joined Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Mike Lewis and other state and local officials in Denver for the groundbreaking of the I-70 reconstruction project or “Central 70,” as it’s referred to locally.

For anyone working, living in or visiting Denver, Central 70 is going to be a really, REALLY, big deal.

How big?

$1.2 billion big. That includes a $416 million loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program, $114 million in Private Activity Bonds allocated by DOT, and $50 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds from the Federal Highway Administration.

It’s the biggest project CDOT has ever undertaken.

And it’s being delivered using CDOT’s biggest public-private partnership (P3) to date.

If all goes according to plan, the P3 — Kiewit Meridiam Partners, CDOT’s High Performance Transportation Enterprise and the Colorado Bridge Enterprise – will bring several big benefits.

For starters, Colorado isn’t just rebuilding a section of I-70. It’s future-proofing road travel in Denver on the busiest route in the state, by adding intelligent transportation system infrastructure that will help accommodate autonomous vehicles in the years ahead.

The project will cut commute times for thousands of area drivers every day and add managed lanes in each direction along ten miles of I-70. That’ll bring a big sigh of relief for travelers anxious to get to Denver International Airport on time.

For 1,200 Rocky Mountain area businesses that ship freight into and out of Colorado by plane, train and truck, the Central 70 project is expected to be a big economic boost by easing bottlenecks, especially between I-25 and the area that’s home to the Western Stock Show.

CDOT also has big plans in the works to remove a 54-year-old viaduct, lower the highway along one section of the project and put a beautiful park over it.

Best of all, this will be a big state-of-the-art highway project built cost-effectively.

FHWA’s worked closely with CDOT for more than a decade to see this groundbreaking become a reality and we commend the state for using innovative project delivery as a way to invest in better transportation and a stronger economy.

For the Mile High City and the entire state, big things are about to happen on I-70. This P3 is looking down the road and seeing a brighter, safer future for Denver.

I can’t wait to come back to see the Central 70 in 2022 when it’s finished!

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