Where is the highest vehicle tunnel in the United States located?
Answer: The Eisenhower Tunnel in Colorado
Technically the tunnel is officially called the Eisenhower–Edwin C. Johnson Memorial Tunnel, named after both President Dwight D. Eisenhower (west bound) and Edwin C. Johnson (east bound), a governor and U.S. Senator who lobbied for an Interstate Highway to be built across Colorado. The structure is located about sixty miles west of Denver, guiding interstate-70 through the continental divide in the Rocky Mountains. The tunnel reaches a max elevation of 11, 158 feet making it the highest vehicular tunnel in the states. It was completed in 1979 although the idea for a tunnel under Loveland Pass had been around since the 1940s. Construction started in March of 1968 and, not surprisingly, ran over budget and past the expected completion date. Fault lines were discovered during construction and seven people lost their lives boring out the through way.
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation:
- Traveling through the Tunnels the public saves 9.1 miles by not having to travel over U.S. Highway 6, Loveland Pass.
- The electric bill averages approximately $70,000 per month.
- The Tunnel operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week, employing 52 full-time employees with job duties that range from round the clock television surveillance, emergency response, tunnel washing, ventilation maintenance, tunnel sweeping, snow removal, heavy equipment servicing and repair, and water treatment.
- In 2012 approximately 28,000 vehicles per day, or 10.7 million vehicles for the year, traveled through the Tunnels.
- During construction approximately 1 million cubic yards of material was cleared from each bore. 190,000 cubic yards of concrete was used for each tunnel lining.
It really is a pretty incredible structure. Some Coloradans attempt to hold their breath through the entire tunnel for good luck. In case you've never been you can view a webcam of the tunnel or a webcam of Loveland Ski Area which is located right before the tunnel on the Eastern side of the Continental Divide.