Best Father's Day Present
My daughter (and family) gave me wonderful Father's Day present--a tour
of the control room in the Hanging Lake Tunnels on I-70 in Glenwood
Canyon. It was worth the wait to get it arranged and we finally had
the tour on December 14th.
To get in to the area, they turn on the "Left Lane Closed" sign and
the red Xs and then escort you in--in the left lane. As you approach,
the door opens and you drive in to the garage area. Then the door
closes and the tunnel is back to normal. Here is the garage area:
Kirk explains the doors--solid steel that can withstand a hit by
a semi. Ask Kirk how he knows....
Here are four of the ventilation fans. Four for the E and four
for the W sides times two for eastbound and westbound = 16 of these
fans. They seldom have to run them as the tunnels self-ventilate,
but if they turn them all on at once, the ski lifts stop in Aspen
The tunnels are over 4000' long and go through two mountainsides
and cross a valley. The control center is built in the valley,
so they can get outside and have windows. Looking across to the
N side of Glenwood Canyon, near Hanging Lake:
A large rock broke from this cliff face and punched through the
top shell of the tunnel, through the roof of the vehicle way and
into the floor of the tunnel. They see bighorn sheep and an
occasional mountain lion. When they have a BBQ in the summer,
the bears show up.
The heart of the operation is the control room. They "operate"
all the highways W of the Eisenhower Tunnel to Utah and from
Wyoming to New Mexico. They see all the cameras, control all
the signs, issue alerts, close highways, know everything. One
or two people watch these screens 24/7. They can zoom in the
CDOT camera with a joystick and read the expiration date on a
license plate. And you thought you had a big TV....
Of course, the grandsons liked the firetrucks the best. Here
Nate learns how heavy a fireman's coat is--and helmet, too.
Kirk explains the operation of the bigger truck. It can
spray a foam from the rooftop cannon. They can spray for up
to 45 minutes and build the foam up to six feet thick, sticking
to everything and smoothering a fire. Of course, even better
is the siren, which Kirk invited to boys to try out!
All this going on in the heart of the tunnel--and you never
suspect as you breeze through....
A lot goes on to make your trip uneventful, thanks to CDOT.