The power of collaboration done well.

I-70 Vail Underpass

Since the 1980s, the Town of Vail had contemplated creating an underpass to connect the north and south frontage roads between the Main Vail and West Vail interchanges. In fact, it has been part of the town’s Transportation Master Plan since 1993. In 2017, CIG helped make it reality.

But first, back to the issue. Residents and visitors alike were frustrated with growing congestion along the I-70 frontage roads. The Town of Vail and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) resolved to reduce this congestion and enhance overall connectivity and safety, and enlisted Kraemer North America to build a new I-70 underpass. Given our expertise communicating major construction projects, Kraemer brought CIG on to manage public information and communication for the 18-month project, which was Vail’s largest infrastructure project to date.

We believe that relationships are key to success on any project.

As part of CIG’s formula for success, we began by developing a public information plan, in which we identified project stakeholders, potential construction issues, key messages and proposed communication tactics.

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Using the public information plan as our foundation, CIG’s first move was hosting an open house to introduce the project to the local community and answer questions.

We created a suite of collateral materials to coincide with the four phases of construction, which communicated impacts for vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic. These included fact sheets, posters and flyers, along with VMS messages for digital highway signage.

CIG also developed weekly project email updates to stakeholders, detailing upcoming construction, impacts and travel recommendations. These project emails maintained a 40 percent open rate — well above industry averages.

CIG worked closely with residents of communities adjacent to the project who were most impacted by construction. We developed information and graphics unique to each condo complex to ensure there were no surprises.

But at CIG, we do more than create fancy designs and talk to the public. We believe that relationships are key to success on any project – and the Vail underpass was a prime example of the power of collaboration done well. CIG coordinated comprehensively with the Town of Vail on public outreach and engaged the local media to help increase awareness and understanding of the project across the community. This resulted in weekly updates in Vail’s local newspaper and public access television. The project also launched a live-streaming camera so the community could keep eyes on the project and check road conditions in real time.

The project culminated with a grand opening ceremony in October 2017 to celebrate the new underpass and give it a name – the Sandstone Underpass. Completed on time and within budget, the Sandstone Underpass serves as a poster child for effective collaboration and participation across agencies and communities. And this teamwork paid off – in 2018 the Sandstone Underpass was recognized as the 2018 Transportation Project of the Year in the category of small/rural communities by the American Public Works Association.