DENVER — — Gov. John Hickenlooper today announced that the I-70 Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels (EJMT) fixed fire suppression system will begin design this fall with construction beginning in early spring 2015 with minimal impacts to traffic.
The design-build team selected for the project includes Barnard Construction Company, Inc., Rondinelli Life Safety/BCER Engineering, ILF Consulting Engineers, Western States Fire Protection Company, and FAS Systems Group.
“The fire suppression system will help protect the traveling public as well as this critical asset to our highway system,” said Hickenlooper. “Closure or long-term damage to one of these tunnels could cost Colorado billions of dollars and impact tourism along the I-70 mountain corridor.”
On average, 30,000 vehicles per day pass through the tunnels. Historically, the EJMT complex has experienced two to three fires a year since the opening of the tunnels in the 1970s. While CDOT has firefighting capability at the EJMT complex, the fixed fire suppression system will provide first responders the critical time needed to safely approach the scene and take action, and will be a critical tool in combating tunnel fires, keeping the public safe, protecting the tunnel structure and minimizing disruptions to traffic.
This $20 million project is funded through a federal Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant, state transportation funds, and funds appropriated by the General Assembly. Major project elements include:
A water-only deluge fire suppression system which is capable of suppressing a large fire (up to 35 megawatts) in the first two minutes of the event
A system capable of providing water for 60 minutes with two deluge sprinkler zones as well as 500 gallons per minute from the existing standpipe system
A new drainage system
A Fiber Optic Linear Heat Detection system
The vast majority of the construction work will be “invisible” to the traveling public, occurring in the ventilation shafts above the tunnels; resulting in minimal traffic disruptions. The fixed fire suppression system is anticipated to be fully functional by December 2015.