News

Heavy Holiday Travel Expected Statewide, I-70 Mountain Corridor

July 2, 2015 - Statewide Transportation Plan - Drivers encouraged to plan ahead, check travel conditions and drive with patience, caution and sobriety. All construction-related lane closures will be suspended beginning this afternoon through Monday midday, later in some higher-traffic areas.

STATEWIDE — As the holiday weekend approaches, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is reminding travelers to check roadway and travel conditions before heading out and plan ahead for the likely event of traffic slowing on the return home.

“The trend each year is for higher traffic volumes headed into the mountains the afternoon before the holiday—which is tomorrow—and then returning from the mountains on Sunday afternoon,” Interstate 70 Corridor Operations Manager Patrick Chavez said. “We know there are multiple events on Saturday in mountain communities that will bring tens of thousands of visitors. It’s a great holiday and it’s going to be a pleasant weekend—we’re just reminding travelers to expect the inevitable delays and enjoy their journeys with patience and safe driving.”

A key focus for CDOT incident management during I-70 travel on holiday weekends is the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel (EJMT). The tunnel has no shoulders, so when traffic volumes reach a point where back-ups into the tunnel could occur, vehicles must be stopped, or Safety Metering implemented, to allow traffic to clear.

“When traffic congestion or incidents occur in the tunnel, our emergency response vehicles have to be able to access the tunnel’s interior,” I-70 Corridor Incident Commander Steven Gillespie said. “Our higher-risk travel time this weekend will be Sunday afternoon, eastbound. We will be monitoring traffic and executing traffic management practices accordingly to help keep travelers safe.”

The highest travel delays occur when heavy traffic congestion necessitates metering at Eisenhower Tunnel. CDOT may use the following mitigation strategies to reduce back-ups approaching the tunnel:

Increase Ramp Management:  Meter on-ramps to eastbound I-70 at Copper Mountain, Frisco, Silverthorne, and Loveland to reduce traffic volume moving through Eisenhower Tunnel and reduce eastbound backups from reaching the interior of the tunnel.

Stage CDOT Heavy Tow and Courtesy Patrol:  Stage Heavy Tow and Courtesy Patrol units at locations with identified peak hour crash patterns as well as increase hours of patrol units. The purpose of these is to rapidly clear incidents and keep traffic flowing to avoid secondary incidents.

Last year’s traffic volume at the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel:

2014

Westbound

Eastbound

Total

Thursday July 3, 2014

32,285

15,207

47,492

Friday July 4, 2014

22,559

13,722

36,281

Saturday July 5, 2014

17,903

26,024

43,927

Sunday, July 6, 2014

16,185

30,985

47,170

Totals

93,418

69,310

162,728

To ease travel delays over the holiday weekend, all CDOT construction projects will be suspended starting this afternoon through Monday midday, or later in some higher traffic areas. The only exception would be for emergency roadwork.  

TRAVELER INFORMATION: To help with trip planning, the public may log onto www.CoTrip.org or the CDOT Mobile app. Both offer the most up-to-date, accurate road conditions and travel information. To receive ongoing information about CDOT projects and lane closures in a given area, the public/media may also sign up by going to www.codot.gov and choosing the envelop icon at the bottom of the page. Call 511 anywhere in Colorado for periodically updated road conditions.

For I-70 mountain travelers, see GoI70.com – hosted by the I-70 Coalition – which provides weekly I-70 travel forecasts based on historical data and how weather, construction or events may impact the mountain commute. Finally, CDOT provides travel information and frequent updates through their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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