News

CDOT’s I-70 Mountain Corridor Operational Improvements Move Travelers During Record-Setting Holiday Traffic

January 8, 2016 - Central/Eastern Colorado/CDOT Region 1 - CDOT’s Winter Driving Campaign, I-70 Mountain Express Lane, Mountain Travel Radio reduce congestion.

DENVER — After a busy holiday weekend, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) announced today that CDOT’s operational improvements in the mountain corridor helped travelers avoid congestion during several record-setting traffic counts in the high country.

“Over the busy holiday weekend, congestion was reduced and helped to make for a safer holiday commute," said Shailen Bhatt, CDOT Executive Director. "We are glad drivers are seeing a benefit in travel and quality of life, and believe this is an example of how to use innovation to maximize operations on challenging corridors. We will use these experiences to make continual operational improvements and to allow the corridor to operate as efficiently as possible.”  

During the first weekend of the new year, Jan. 1-3, CDOT traffic monitoring reported that traffic volume ranked as the third highest winter weekend traffic count on record, with 140,014 vehicles. Even with this high traffic count and several corridor incidents, which were resolved using the I-70 Mountain Express Lane, travel speeds remained free-flowing. Also reported from the holiday weekend traveling eastbound and westbound, on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016:

  • The second highest 24-hour traffic count on record with 52,515 vehicles

  • The highest overall hourly traffic count was set at 12 p.m., with 4,789 vehicles

  • The third highest hourly traffic count was set at 1 p.m., with 4,660 vehicles

CDOT officials also said the corridor saw no major traffic delays over New Year’s weekend -- a significant improvement over previous years.    

“The I-70 Mountain Express Lane worked great,” said Clear Creek County Commissioner Tim Mauck. “Holiday traffic flowed well on the highway and on our frontage roads, providing easy access both through the corridor as well as to our mountain community restaurants and shops. Clear Creek County looks forward to continuing to work with CDOT to not only ensure the success of this improvement but also to develop additional innovative transportation solutions for this corridor.”

Opening in December, the new I-70 Mountain Express Lane is a 13-mile toll lane that runs between Empire and Idaho Springs and operates only during peak travel times. The lane will use dynamic pricing to keep travel reliable and save motorists an average of 30 minutes. All drivers, including HOV, will pay a toll to use the lane and travelers can save by getting a switchable transponder or ExpressToll sticker at www.expresstoll.com.

“Colorado Mountain Express utilizes the I-70 Mountain Express Lane to safely and efficiently provide our guests with more reliable travel times during peak travel days,“ said John Dawsey, Vice President & General Manager of Colorado Mountain Express. “Over the Holidays our drivers reported the Express Lane benefited all I-70 travelers by reducing congestion during peak times.”

While the toll for the I-70 Mountain Express Lane could range from $3 to $30 through this holiday season, the toll remained at the base fee of $3 nearly the entire time to allow drivers to learn to use the lane. The same ExpressToll passes (stickers or switchable transponders) used on the US 36 and I-25 Express Lanes, E-470 and the Northwest Parkway work on the I-70 Mountain Express Lane.

The opening and early success of the I-70 Mountain Express Lane is another of CDOT’s incremental coordinated efforts to improve the I-70 corridor, such as the Veterans Memorial Tunnels and the winter driving campaign that have all had positive outcomes for travelers in the mountains. CDOT’s Mountain Travel Radio on COtrip.org provides motorists with the most accurate and up-to-date information, special Peak Time deals and mountain event information, airing Friday afternoons, Saturday and Sunday mornings/afternoons, and holidays.

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.

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

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