We drive through this unbelievable tunnel every time we travel to and from the mountains on interstate 70, but how much do we really know about what it took to build this mountain top wonder. Sometimes we take for granted all of the work that goes into our high systems that allow us to see new places much easier than the generations before us. This is definitely the case when it comes to building a tunnel through a mountain at more than 11,000 feet. This is not the only shocking fact about Eisenhower tunnel, so check out these 40 fun facts to impress friends and family next time you travel through this iconic tunnel.
The History behind the Eisenhower Tunnel
- (1) The tunnel was built 46 years ago on March 8, 1973
- (2) It was started on March 15 in 1968 and took 5 years to complete almost exactly.
- (3) Eisenhower tunnel named after President Dwight D. Eisenhower
- (4) The Eisenhower tunnel was originally called the Straight Creek tunnel
- (5) Three people died while building the Eisenhower tunnel
- (6) Edwin Johnson, Colorado’s governor, said the tunnel would start the biggest boom in mountain towns since the Gold Rush
- (7) Janet Bonnema was hired to engineer the tunnels – when hired her name was misspelled and she was thought to be a man. She fought for equal rights to work in the industry and started a turning point for women in engineering.
Building the Eisenhower Tunnel
- (8) It cost about $116.9 million to build the westbound bore and $144.9 million to build the eastbound bore
- (9) In today’s dollars, it cost between 1 and 1.5 billion to build one bore of the tunnel
- (10) Approximately 1 million cubic yards of rock and earth were removed from each bore
- (11) 190,000 cubic yards of concrete was used in construction
- (12) The Eisenhower tunnel is 1.693 miles long
- (13) Up to 1,140 people were employed to create the tunnels
- (14) Crews worked three separate shifts, 24 hours a day on 6 day shifts
- (15) There is up to 1,496 feet of rock and earth above the tunnels
- (16) Tunnel is lined with hanging porcelain tiles
- (17) There are three cross tunnels that allow for foot traffic in between each tunnel
- (18) Tunnels allow for two 13 foot lanes; 26 feet total
- (19) Tunnels have a height of 13’11”
Location Location Location
- (20) Located roughly 60 miles from Denver
- (21) The tunnel is about 42 miles from Vail Colorado
- (22) Highest vehicle tunnel in the world
- (23) Elevation of 11,155 feet
- (24) The tunnel system lies entirely within the Arapahoe National Forest
- (25) The tunnel traverses through the Continental Divide at an average elevation of 11,112 feet
- (26) Loveland Pass used to be the only way to Denver over the pass
- (26) Tunnel system shaves about 10 miles off of the trip to Denver, compared to Loveland Pass
- (28) To power the tunnel, expenses are about $70,000 per month
- (29) Tunnels are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- (30) Employs 52 full time staff
- (31) In 2018 the average daily number of cars passing through the tunnel was aboutt 37,000 cars.
- (32) By 2016 more than 355 million cars have driven through the tunnel
- (33) Crosses the borders of Summit and Clear Creek counties
- (34) Traffic is monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
- (35) Traffic rarely stops, but when it does, it is usually due to inclement weather, accidents or metering
- (36) Weekends and holidays have the highest traffic volume
- (37) Hazardous Material vehicles are not allowed through the tunnel unless Loveland pass is closed
- (38) The tunnel has its own war room, where staff monitor toxic gases from car exhaust, like carbon monoxide
- (39) An overhead fire suppression system works to prevent fires in the tunnel
- (40) Not a single death has occurred in the Eisenhower tunnel
It is fascinating the important role this tunnel plays in Colorado. It has made travel safer and easier between the Denver metropolitan area and the world class mountain towns throughout the Rocky Mountains. You’ll get to travel through the Eisenhower Tunnel with Peak 1 Express when you take one of your shuttles from the Denver Airport to Summit County or Vail Valley. Book your transportation to the Rocky Mountains today!