The Colorado Dept. of Transportation and its contractor, SEMA Construction, began work March 26 on a new interchange west of Parachute on I-70 at approximately Milepost 72. The new interchange will offer on- and off-ramps in both east and west directions and will utilize an existing overpass on U.S. 6. The new interchange will offer efficient, full-service traffic movements in the rapidly growing area.

The interchange project involves construction of on- and off-ramps, two roundabouts on the north and south sides of the existing overpass on U.S. 6, and an asphalt overlay on U.S. 6. Several safety improvements will also be made, including new guardrail and wildlife fencing on the north side of the interchange.

The existing bridge over I-70 will have new approach slabs, rail and curb structures, guardrails and a waterproofing membrane on the deck. The bridge deck will be overlaid with new asphalt, offering enhanced skid resistance, reduced noise levels and a smoother surface. Drainage improvements also will be made. The work will be complete at the end of October.

The total project cost will be approximately $12 million, from  environmental assessment to design and through construction. The funding came from several sources other than CDOT: the town of Parachute, Garfield County, Battlement Mesa Co. and the Colorado Dept. of Local Affairs. Additionally, the gas production companies of Encana and Williams are providing $150,000 per company per year for calendar years 2011 and 2012 (yielding a total of $600,000). CDOT is contributing $6 million.

“This interchange project was originally planned for construction in calendar year 2013. A team effort and partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, Garfield County and CDOT accelerated the final design and construction by one year,” said CDOT Resident Engineer Roland Wagner. “When opened this fall, the new Exit 72 West Parachute Interchange, coupled with the new Parachute Parkway Bypass, will relieve the town of Parachute from the heavy truck traffic pressure that is currently experienced at Exit 75 to the east.”