The Eisenhower and Johnson Tunnels are a rite-of-passage for anyone traveling I-70 through Colorado. Located 60 miles west of Denver on Interstate 70, the Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnel is the world’s highest vehicle tunnel. It stands at a height of 13’11” at an elevation of 11,155 feet. This does not include the 1,497 feet of earth above the tunnel.
Not only is it the tallest tunnel in the state of Colorado, it is also the longest tunnel in Colorado. Coming in at 1.7 miles long, the tunnels were built with one million cubic yards of material, 190,000 cubic yards of concrete, 10,000 tons of reinforcing steel bars, 23,000 tons of steel and more than 1000 workers. These workers worked 24/7! Their hard work did not go without fatality; 7 workers were killed in the building of the tunnels.
The Eisenhower tunnel broke ground in 1968 and took 5 years to build even though it was scheduled to be done in 3 years. Construction for the Johnson tunnel began in 1975 and took 4 years to complete. All that work came at a price. Eisenhower Tunnel cost around $117 million dollars. The Johnson Tunnel cost just a bit more at $145 million dollars.
Being the longest tunnel in Colorado explains why it costs so much for electricity a month. This bill usually comes out to $70,000 per month for the 5,600 light bulbs. The tunnels get their power from Lake Dillon and Georgetown and has its own power substation.
There are 32,000 vehicles that travel through the tunnel daily. Not only do they monitor vehicle numbers but they also measure carbon monoxide levels in the tunnel. With that many vehicles traveling through, the tunnel must be tough and durable.
This tunnel is fully stocked with its own on-site fire rescue. Being over 1 mile long, workers need to be prepared for anything. This includes every worker being a trained firefighter. Seems unnecessary but they have 3 car fires a year in the tunnel. For this reason there are fire hydrants every 250 feet and cameras every 850 feet so they can see what’s going down. There are even fire exits in case a fire happens in the tunnel. There are 52 full-time employees working the tunnels 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Peak 1 Express operates daily shuttles through the two tunnels. For transportation between Denver Airport and Breckenridge, Vail, Copper, Keystone, Beaver Creek and more, call 855-GO-PEAK1 (855-467-3251) or book online.