Paving the Way for Increased Mobility Access

The City of Aurora’s I-70 interchange project will create economic opportunities and create vital travel connections

By Laura Perry

Interstate 70 traverses America’s Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains as a major cross-continental thoroughfare for commerce and travel of all kinds.

Two new interchanges on I-70 in Aurora, Colorado—a growing city of nearly 400,000—will unlock tremendous economic opportunity and create vital connections to global commerce and travel. 

This area—a 21,000-acre Colorado Aerotropolis located south of the world’s sixth busiest airport—represents the future of Aurora and the growing northeast metro region.

Significant centers of commerce already exist in this area featuring powerhouse companies like Amazon, Shamrock Foods and Best Buy, and new neighborhoods like the 4,000-acre master-planned Aurora Highlands and the neo-traditional Painted Prairie neighborhood are offering plenty of new housing options for both long-established residents and newcomers.

Flanking the E-470 tollway, the Picadilly Road interchange just to the west and the Aerotropolis Parkway interchange just to the east, are finally coming to fruition after years of strategic and long-term planning.

The interchanges promise to expand access to I-70 in this rapidly growing area. Together, they will better connect freight to local, regional and international markets. They will ensure safe routes for travelers and emergency vehicles. And they will serve a significant Opportunity Zone in Colorado.

Picadilly Road is a vital corridor for accessing the Denver International Airport and the metropolis—a place that expects to see 74,000 new jobs by 2040. The City of Aurora and Lawrence Construction broke ground on the much-anticipated interchange in August 2023.

A $25 million U.S. Department of Transportation federal grant awarded in 2019, combined with a strong level of financial participation from the City of Aurora and significant contributions from the Aerotropolis Regional Transportation Authority and the Colorado Department of Transportation, moved this long-planned transformational project forward.

The design-build project is backed by other critical partners—legislators, Denver International Airport, the E-470 Public Highway Authority, the Denver Regional Council of Governments, the Federal Highway Administration, Adams County, landowners and development companies.

This vast network of support illustrates the project’s critical importance to both state and national growth.

Crews were already 10% into the project as of April 2024, constructing a Diverging Diamond Interchange. It will represent one of only a handful of interchanges of its kind in Colorado, promising traffic safety innovations like advanced signaling systems, wider lanes, improved lighting and a focused central corridor specifically designed for foot and pedal traffic.

When the project is complete in late 2025, it promises to improve mobility and safety for everyone who lives and works in this region.

The Aurora City Council, the Adams County Board of Commissioners and the Aerotropolis Area Coordinating Metropolitan District established the Aurora Regional Transportation Authority in 2018 to tackle critical regional transportation infrastructure projects needed to improve access across Aurora and Adams County. The Authority will use property taxes generated from future developments to pay off bonds issued to fund these projects.

One of the key projects identified was the realignment of Harvest Road, later renamed Aerotropolis Parkway to allow for another new interchange on I-70, this time to the east of I-70 to further pave the way for better accessibility and connectivity in this region.

Moving forward with the interchange required a resolution from the Colorado Transportation Commission, but it’s the Authority’s financing mechanism that is funding the entire $30 million project.

The interchange is part of a larger vision for Aerotropolis Parkway that includes roundabouts for better traffic flow, several miles of new pedestrian/bike trails, optimized transit operations and delivery to the area and shuttle service to the Regional Transportation District’s A-Line commuter train to enhance multimodal operations.

The project went to bid in February 2024, and construction is slated to start later this year.

The interchange and realignment of Aerotropolis Parkway will ensure effective movement of freight, people and opportunity in the area, and symbolizes a regional growth solution that benefits all users in a truly comprehensive way.

Together, this pair of new interchanges on I-70 mean better mobility access for major centers of commerce, job hubs, the airport, essential services, and new places to call home. These interchanges represent a significant investment in Aurora and the region’s economic vitality. 

This article was written in collaboration with Matt Hopper who is the chairperson for the Aerotropolis Regional Transportation Authority and president of the Aerotropolis Area Coordinating Metropolitan District.

Laura Perry is the deputy city manager for the City of Aurora, Colorado.

Discover more from American Infrastructure

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading