Friday, January 25, 2013

Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnels

Many of our Weekend Road Trips involve heading to the high mountains on the western side of the Continental Divide. We usually take Interstate 70 to get to our destination and then travel back home via the back roads. Interstate 70 runs east to west and bisects the state of Colorado. 


Prior to 1973 the only way across the Continental Divide on I-70 was over Loveland Pass (click here to read my post about Loveland Pass), a route which can be very treacherous during the icy, snowy winter months.  But in March 1973 a tunnel under the Rocky Mountains was opened allowing two lanes of traffic to travel under the Colorado Rockies. The amount of traffic which traveled through the tunnel exceeded expectations and another tunnel was opened six years later, alleviating the traffic congestion.

west side of the tunnel
This tunnel system was named the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel, after President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Edwin C, Johnson, a former Colorado Governor. Both of these men were instrumental in building the Interstate Highway system. The Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel is the longest mountain tunnel and highest vehicular tunnel in the United States with a maximum elevation of 11,158 ft.(3,401 m) above sea level. When the tunnels were completed in 1979, the final cost was over $260 million (over $900 million by 2013 standards). 

Loveland Ski Area & Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel
east side of tunnel
And to add to the interest, when a person is approaching the tunnels from the east side during the winter months, skiers can be seen skiing down the very mountain (Loveland Ski area) that the tunnels go through. 

inside the tunnel - the green sign on the left marks the Continental Divide

3 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I like driving through mountain tunnels. They're very cool.

Robin Larkspur said...

Beautiful scenery! Colorado is amazing.

mrsduncanmahogany said...

I have never been through a mountain tunnel! It looks interesting. That would be neat to see the skiers!