I-70 Glenwood Canyon — Design Concept

by Joseph H. Looper, (F.ASCE), Partner; Howard, Needles, Tammen, & Bergendoff, Milwaukee, Wisc.,

Serial Information: Transportation Engineering Journal of ASCE, 1976, Vol. 102, Issue 2, Pg. 201-213

Document Type: Journal Paper


A critical section of Interstate Route I-70 follows the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon in western Colorado. Physical constraints imposed by the narrow winding Canyon, coupled with environmental concerns, present a major design and construction challenge. A design team of architects, environmentalists, geologists, and engineers made a detailed on-site evaluation of the project and reviewed such data as river flooding records; snowfall and winter icing problems; existing vegetation, fish, and wildlife species and habitats; and recreational and scenic sites. The recommended design embodies a terraced concept, avoiding excavation of the canyon walls. The design meets Interstate criteria for 50-mph (80-km/hr) speeds, with two 24-ft (7.3-m) roadways plus 10-ft (3-m) shoulders on the right side of each roadway. Access is provided to several scenic points, with picnic and restroom facilities, access to the river, and hiking trails. A bicycle path is provided through the entire section.

Subject Headings: Canyons | Highways and roads | Conceptual design | Rivers and streams | Sustainable development | Flood routing | Coupling | Construction management | Colorado River | Colorado | United States

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