The Colorado Dept. of Transportation has selected the Kiewit Meridiam Partners (KMP) to lead a public-private partnership that will design, build and finance a reconstruction of Interstate 70 through Denver. The $1.2-billion project, known as Central 70, is the biggest highway infrastructure project in the state’s history.

The project will reconstruct a 10-mile stretch of I-70 east of downtown, add a new tolled express lane in each direction, remove a deteriorating 53-year-old viaduct, lower a portion of the freeway, and create a four-acre park near an elementary school over the lowered interstate. CDOT originally planned for a five-year project, but agency officials said they selected the KMP team because it proposes to slice nearly six months off that schedule.

Other KMP team members include design lead WSP and Jacobs, with Jorgensen as operator. The team will operate and maintain Central 70 for the next 30 years.

CDOT says contract negotiations with KMP will begin shortly, with the team expected to be fully on board by 2018, following a financial close this winter. Construction will begin in spring 2018 and take at least four years to complete under the proposed KMP schedule.

“CDOT sought a partner that would deliver Central 70 on budget, on time and with technical excellence and innovation,” said CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt. The team “can meet this challenge while minimizing impacts to those who travel, work and live along I-70,” he added.

Kiewit has led some of Colorado’s most complex infrastructure projects, including improvements to Denver Union Station, the I-225 light-rail line, Pecos Street over I-70 bridge replacement, and the massive Transportation Expansion (T-REX) project.

The Central 70 project continues to face protests and lawsuits filed by neighborhood groups and environmentalists who claim it will harm air quality and further damage low-income neighborhoods along its path.