Construction is set to being on a $50-million project that will create a new interchange connecting Stapleton’s Central Park Boulevard with Interstate 70 in Denver, the largest American Recovery & Reinvestment Act-funded project in Colorado.

In 2000, the former Stapleton International Airport site began a transformation to become an urban, mixed-use infill development. The redevelopment of the 4,700-acre site occurred on both sides of I-70 in east Denver; however, a designated road to connect the two sides was not included in the plan. The new Central Park Boulevard project makes those connections, while also providing crucial access to I-70 and Interstate 270.

The CPB Interchange, to be constructed by SEMA Construction, will be located between Quebec and Havana streets on I-70 and will feature two major components. The first component will connect the Stapleton Development on both sides of I-70 with a six-lane bridge over the highway. The CPB bridge will allow multi-modal transportation and will include 12-ft sidewalks to accommodate all types of traffic: vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles.

The second component will connect CPB to Interstates 70 and 270. Because of the nature of the connections, the interchange will consist of a network of braided ramps, according to officials at SEMA. This type of ramp is necessary along the north and south sides of I-70 to provide access to and from the two interstates and will be constructed on land already set aside for the ramps.

The idea is to limit the impact on drivers on the two interstates, said Stacey Stegman, Colorado Dept. of Transportation spokeswoman.

A project is being managed through a public-private partnership with the combined efforts of the Federal Highway Administration, CDOT, the City and County of Denver, SEMA Construction and the community. The new interchange will open to traffic in November 2011.

Separate from the CPB interchange project is the design and construction of CPB outside the limits of the interchange, which will be constructed by Forest City Enterprises. Forest City, the main developer in the Stapleton subdivision, will spend $20 million to extend Stapleton’s Central Park Boulevard two miles north from 36th Avenue to Northfield Boulevard.

“The Stapleton community will be well served by this new interchange,” said Federal Highway Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau. “The project is creating well-paying jobs for area workers, building safe multi-use paths for walkers and cyclists and, by reducing travel distance, giving time back to residents and commuters.”

Federal Highway Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau joined state and local officials last week to break ground on the project, which relies on $12 million in ARRA funds.

“Projects like the I-70 Central Park Boulevard Interchange are making significant contributions all across America,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “The Recovery Act is creating jobs, improving our transportation infrastructure and helping families spend more time together and less on the road.”

The balance of the project will be funded by $30 million from the voter-approved Better Denver Bond Program and other federal sources.

“Thanks to the foresight of Denver voters, the Better Denver Bond program is reinvesting in our future through critical infrastructure improvements like the Central Park Boulevard Interchange,” said Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. “This project will improve quality of life for everyone who travels through, shops and lives in the area for decades to come.”

Once complete, an average of 17,000 vehicles will use CPB daily and an estimated 46,000 vehicles are anticipated to use it daily by 2035.

“One of the most effective economic drivers is a strong transportation system,” said Gov. Ritter. “That’s why this project is so important. This new interchange will become a key part of the region’s transportation network while also spurring job creation, supporting area businesses and improving the overall quality of life for the thousands of people who live, work and visit this part of the metro area.”