I-70 Mountain Express Lane opens Dec. 12

December 9, 2015 - Central/Eastern Colorado/CDOT Region 1 - Toll collection waived during testing period; CDOT reminds drivers to get a pass.

DENVER -- The High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) today announced the opening of the eastbound I-70 Mountain Express Lane to traffic on Saturday, Dec. 12, from Empire to Idaho Springs. Travelers will be able to try the lanes for free and learn how to use them while toll collection is waived during the testing period. Travelers in the lane can expect to see signage showing different toll rates during the testing period, however, tolls are fully waived.

“Drivers can use this testing period as an opportunity to try the new Express Lane and experience the new configuration of the highway, without paying a toll,” said Shailen Bhatt, CDOT Executive Director. "The Express Lane will bring much needed capacity during peak travel times to this critical mountain corridor that connects our Front Range residents and tourists to our world-class recreational opportunities.”

The testing period will allow drivers to become familiar with things like dates and hours of usage, and permitted entrances and exits prior to toll commencement.

When toll commencement begins, the base toll rate for ExpressToll account and pass holders is $3 and with typical traffic volumes, could range between $8 and $10. At high traffic volumes, the afternoon rate is expected to range between $10 and $15, or higher, depending upon trip reliability and traffic volume. Toll prices can range from $3 to $30 for the I-70 Mountain Express Lane, depending upon traffic. CDOT encourages all drivers to save money each trip with an ExpressToll pass. Without a pass, using License Plate Toll, drivers will pay the toll plus an additional fee to cover the increased costs of processing the transaction without a pass.  

All motorists traveling on the I-70 Mountain Express Lane – including motorcycles, carpoolers and hybrids – will pay a toll. However, travelers not wishing to pay a toll can always choose to travel in the adjacent free general purpose lanes.

The I-70 Mountain Express Lane operates for 13 miles traveling eastbound between Empire and Idaho Springs for 73 days a year - only during periods of peak travel such as the weekends and holidays. When not in use, the lane is used as a shoulder. The I-70 Mountain Express Lane is one of several incremental improvements to the I-70 Mountain Corridor, including the Veterans Memorial Tunnels project, to improve congestion.

What you need to know about the I-70 Mountain Express Lane:

  • There are two entrances and exits:

    • Enter at Empire Junction or before the Veterans Memorial Twin Tunnels.

    • Express Lane users who want to exit at Idaho Springs may use the signed Express Lane exit for Idaho Springs, prior to Exit 239.

    • Travelers exiting I-70 eastbound to US 6 at Floyd Hill (Exit 244) can enter US 6 without a charge.

  • Do not cross the solid white line; enter and exit at designated areas only.

  • No free HOV, motorcycles or trailers or trucks over 25 feet.

  • Travelers will be charged the toll price posted when they entered the Express Lane. If the price should increase or decrease while they are in the lane, drivers will pay the price posted upon entry. The toll price is the same regardless of toll entrance point, Empire or before the Veterans Memorial Tunnels.

  • The use of the lane will be impacted by weather or incidents.

    • Should an incident occur and traffic is detoured onto or off the Express Lane, no toll will be charged.

  • The Express Lane is open weekends and holidays. When not in use, it is a shoulder.

  • Get a Pass! ExpressToll saves money each time.

    • The same ExpressToll passes (stickers or switchable HOV transponders) that are used on US 36, E-470, I-25 and Northwest Parkway will work on the I-70 Mountain Express Lane.  

Get I-70 Mountain Express Lane updates:

  • Sign up for text or email alerts for when the I-70 Mountain Express Lane is open or closed. Click here and select “I-70 Clear Creek/Mountain Express Lane.”

  • Visit Cotrip.org to learn current I-70 Mountain Express Lane toll prices.

  • Listen to CDOT Mountain Radio on Cotrip.org.

  • Visit expresslanes.codot.gov for more information on Express Lanes.

Although opening the Express Lane marks a major milestone in the Peak Period Shoulder Lane Project, construction work will continue into 2016 with periodic lane and ramp closures.

CDOT and HPTE encourage all drivers to have an ExpressToll account and pass in order to save money on every trip in the Express Lanes. The ExpressToll pass works on all Colorado’s Express Lanes and toll roads such as the Northwest Parkway and E-470, and allows drivers to save money every time. Drivers can save money on tolls by visiting www.expresstoll.com to set up an ExpressToll account.


About Express Lanes: Express Lanes increase roadway capacity and help to manage congestion on the highways. The use of toll pricing during peak travel times reduces delays, manages congestion and maintains reliable travel times. Express Lanes currently span seven miles on I-25, between downtown Denver and US 36, and on 11 miles of US 36 between Denver and Louisville/Superior. For more information, visit expresslanes.codot.gov.

About the High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE): The HPTE operates as a government-owned, independent business within CDOT. It searches out innovative ways to finance projects to help Colorado fulfill its commitment to increase travel choices through options that include Express Lanes, transit, biking, walking and carpooling. For more information, visit www.coloradohpte.com.

For more information on the I-70 Mountain Corridor Express Lane, go to: https://www.codot.gov/programs/expresslanes/corridors/I70MtnExpress