Colorado Public Works Journal, Fall 2023

16┃ Colorado Public Works Journal Public Improvement decades in the making, Central 70 comes to fruition for the good of all By Sean O’Keefe congestion and remove the intrusive barrier adversely bisecting a series of north Denver neighborhoods. While adding new Express Lanes in both directions without disrupting traffic was a challenge, doing so was relatively simple compared to the radical realignment required on the western end of the work. “The PCL involved taking down the viaduct, shifting the alignment to the north, and rebuilding the highway 35 feet below grade,” says Hays of a plan that took 15 years to develop and another five to implement. “The crown jewel of the project is the four-acre park placed on top of the lowered section that rejoins the neighborhoods at grade. Collaboration was the key to everything we accomplished and CDOT is so proud of the incredible Public-Private Partnership we formed with Kiewit Meridiam Partners LLC.” With a combined cost of $1.2B, Central 70 was undertaken as a P3 program. Leveraging a Design-Build-Finance-OperateMaintain (DBFOM) delivery, fundamentally, P3 allowed CDOT to accomplish this Herculean scope of work. “This project is larger than our annual budget. So, to think we could afford to build this on our own is not realistic,” says Hays. The DBFOM structure used on Central 70 allows CDOT to own and maintain the highway and pay for it by making monthly availability payments to Kiewit Meridiam Partners akin Public Improvement decades in the making, Central 70 comes to fruition for the good of all • By Sean O’Keefe Infrastructure is never easy. As the fundamental fabric connecting people to place, purpose to productivity, and potential to possibilities in every direction, infrastructure can be understood as any system of public works or resources required to organize human activities. Very much a living organism, in the 21st Century infrastructure is the symbiotic experience of many intersecting interests in a crowded amalgam of changing circumstances, technologies, and social needs. Behind it all are the men and women who make it happen – the minds in the machine, the hands that do the work, and the operators who plow it, pump it, run it, and rebuild it day in and day out – public servants one and all. Bob Hays is such a figure. As the Project Director for the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) recently completed Central 70 project, he has had his hands full for some time. “The planning process for Central 70 stretches back to about 2000 when CDOT recognized that the elevated viaduct ramping I-70 over a two-mile stretch of north Denver was starting to fall apart,” says Hays who has been with CDOT for more than 20 years himself. “CDOT began considering alternatives to the bridge over a 15-year process that concluded with a Record of Decision to build a Partially Covered Lowered option or PCL.” Stretching a total of ten miles along I-70 from Chambers Road in Aurora to the National Western Center at Brighton Boulevard, the Central-70 Project was undertaken to alleviate commuter