Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnels Infrastructure Repairs

About the Project:

The Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnels (EJMT), about 60 miles west of Denver on Interstate 70, is the highest paved vehicular tunnel in the world—at an elevation of 11,013 feet at the East Portal and 11,158 feet at the West Portal. The tunnels are just over 1.5 miles long and at peak travel times carry as many as 3,500 vehicles per hour (VPH) in one direction of travel alone. I-70 is a critical corridor for moving goods and services such as medical supplies, food, and other essential items and as such, EJMT is a vital piece of infrastructure to keep I-70 traffic moving safely and efficiently.

Opened in 1973 (Eisenhower Tunnel Bore) and 1979 (Johnson Tunnel Bore), EJMT is faced with outdated and aging infrastructure which CDOT will begin repairing through a variety of construction projects starting in the summer of 2022 and into the next several years. These projects are part of CDOT’s 10-Year Plan, with funding made possible through Senate Bill 260 and the Bridge & Tunnel Enterprise.

These projects will reduce the vulnerabilities EJMT currently faces and increase the resiliency and operating condition of one of the state of Colorado’s greatest assets. The improvements will enhance safety for the traveling public, upgrade connectivity to the rest of the freight network in the United States, and boost economic vitality along the only contiguous east/west interstate in Colorado.

Below is a list of the upcoming projects and the anticipated construction schedules and impacts associated with each project. For specific weekly traffic impacts, visit COtrip.org.

Project Facts

  • Cost: $50 million
  • Contractor: Ulteig Engineering
  • Timeline: July 2022-2024
  • Location: I-70 Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel, Clear Creek/Summit Counties

Grout Repair

This project will replace and repair grout beds that support the interior wall panels in the north tunnel (Eisenhower) and will address and repair damaged wall panels & steel hangar issues throughout the north tunnel (Eisenhower). Steel hangars are brackets at the top of wall panels that keep them from falling forward. The wall panels have shifted from ice buildup behind them, so these wall panels & hangars need to be inspected and replaced if they are damaged from the movement.

Construction schedule: July-November 2022

Traffic impacts: Overnight single lane closures Sunday through Thursday nights between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. July through October; possible full tunnel closures overnight 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. in fall 2022. No weekend work is anticipated.

Cost: $2 Million


Plenum Liner Repair

This project will make repairs to the plenum liner (a structural liner within the tunnel walls) in both tunnel bores to mitigate water intrusion within the tunnel plenum liner during freeze/thaw cycles.

Construction Schedule: Late fall 2022 start, winter shutdown, pick work back up in spring of 2023 into late fall of 2023

Traffic Impacts: Minimal impacts to traffic on I-70 with potential single lane closures during overnight hours

Cost: $15 Million


Drainage, Plumbing, and Heat Trace Project

This project contains a variety of repairs including:

  • New fire department hose connections through each tunnel, allowing better access for first responders
  • New domestic water supply line to connect the west portal to the east portal
  • Develop a solution to prevent freezing of seep mains by replacing the heat tape (heat tape is insulated electrical line that is warm and is used inside pipes to keep the water in them from freezing) or providing a proposed alternative/innovative solution
  • Potential to add heat tape or a proposed alternative to prevent freezing of the current collection system
  • Replace existing heat tape with new heat tape on exterior roof drains and install new controls to interface with the new heat tape monitoring system
  • Water treatment plant upgrades to bring the facility to modern technology
  • Remove all existing heat tape, controls (the controls tell the heat tape to turn off and on automatically and gives you the status of if it is properly working) and circuitry back to the power source, and replace with new heat tape

Construction schedule: Fall of 2022 through fall of 2024

Traffic Impacts: Overnight single lane closures and potential full bore closures with traffic alternating through the other tunnel bore

Cost: $27.7 Million


Service Area Repairs

This project will make repairs in the approach/entryways to the tunnels, known as the “service area” including:

  • Replace fire extinguisher cabinets
  • Repair guardrail, surface drainage, asphalt, pavement markings, tunnel portal brick repair, and other miscellaneous items
  • Install new automated portal anti-icing system to help with ice buildup at the tunnel portals
  • Repairs to the loop road and parking areas around the tunnel, used by maintenance crew members and emergency service personnel

Construction Schedule: Summer 2023 through fall 2023

Traffic Impacts: Minimal impacts to traffic with some overnight single lane closures

Cost: $5 Million


Other Work

  • Replacement of several overhead variable message boards and cameras in the tunnels used for monitoring traffic flow and incidents
  • Repairs to the roof
  • Construction of a new CDOT maintenance shed on the west side/Summit County side of the tunnel
  • Biannual tunnel inspections