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Sunday, October 2, 2022

Colorado Studies HAZMAT Tunnel Usage on I-70

 Gov. Jared Polis signed into law a bill to have the Colorado Department of Transportation study whether tanker trucks hauling hazardous materials should be authorized to access the tunnels on Interstate 70 west of Denver.

Affected loads now must use Loveland Pass on U.S. 6 to travel through the area. An exception is made to access the tunnels when the two-lane pass is closed for weather or other reasons. Hazmat loads then are permitted to use the tunnels during certain times.

The Legislature approved a bill to require CDOT to complete a study by December 2020. Previously SB32, the new law charges the agency with coming up with findings and recommendations for permitting hazmat loads to travel the tunnels.

State officials tried before to come up with a solution to address concerns about hazmat loads driving through the tunnels. In 2011, legislation was approved to create a $25 million fire-suppression system for the tunnels.

Supporters of the new law requiring a study have noted the system, however, has shown to be inadequate to address fire concerns. They advocated for the study to help come up with a solution. Others said it is quite possible a study will confirm hazmat trucks should not run through the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels with other traffic.