I-70 interchange construction begins

Construction has begun on Mesa County’s first Diverging Diamond Interchange.

Work began Friday on the interchange at Interstate 70 Exit 26. The diverging diamond take westbound traffic on U.S. Highway 6&50 and shifts it to the south lanes under the interstate overpass, then back to the north side after the overpass. Eastbound traffic will shift to the north lane under the overpass, then back over to the south side. Both shifts to and from the opposing lanes will be accompanied by traffic lights.

The idea behind the diverging diamond design is to make it easier for cars coming off of or going onto the interstate to merge into the desired direction of traffic without having to cross lanes during a left-hand turn to get to a ramp.

The construction schedule is subject to change but plan are to finish surveying for right-of-way, electric runs, pipe work and paving this Tuesday and work on removing guard rails, curbs and gutters; begin excavation; instal electric conduit on the north side of the highway; and excavate and install storm drain pipe on the north side of the highway through July 31.

Currently, all traffic on U.S. Highway 6&50 in the construction area has been shifted to eastbound lanes, with one lane each going east or west. The speed limit is 35 miles per hour instead of the usually 45 miles per hour during the construction period. Traffic will switch to westbound lanes once work on those lanes is done in early September. Traffic will be open in all lanes likely in late 2013.

The Colorado Department of Transportation and the city of Grand Junction partnered on the $4 million project. Other interchange options to increase capacity at the exit would have cost $10-$15 million, according to a project press release. Funding Advancements for Surface Treatment and Economic Recovery, or FASTER, funds from vehicle fees will help pay for the project.

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