Expect Heavy Traffic for Summer’s Last Hurrah

Aug. 31, 2017—

Drivers should anticipate heavy traffic in many areas of the state due to the number of events and activities taking place over the Labor Day weekend.

All CDOT construction projects will be suspended statewide by late Friday afternoon to reduce potential delays. The only exception is for emergency operations. Projects resume their regular schedules on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Safety First

  • Please plan ahead, check out COtrip.org for the latest travel conditions.
  • Avoid heavy travel times; early afternoon to evening as traffic heads out on Friday and mid-morning through the afternoon on Saturday, and on Monday.
  • Buckle up, put the phone down and drive sober.
  • Give plenty of space between your vehicle and the one ahead of you.
  • Check your blind spots.
  • Watch for wildlife crossings.
  • Drive the speed limit.
  • Heed the Move Over Law.

Traffic Trends

Heavier than normal weekend traffic is expected on I-25 along the Front Range and on I-70 west of Denver.

Last year's Labor Day weekend traffic numbers at the I-70 Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels:

2016 Holiday Weekend Westbound Eastbound Total
Friday 32,456 17,196 49,652
Saturday 28,264 16,225 44,489
Sunday 16,681 25,515 42,196
Monday (Labor Day) 16,541 31,763 48,304
TOTAL 93,942 90,699 184,641

Traffic volumes have been increasing about 50,000 vehicles per month on the I-70 Mountain Corridor over the last few years.

What Travelers Can Expect

I-70 Mountain Corridor—Up to one-hour delays Friday and Saturday going westbound from Denver to the mountains on, and on Monday traveling eastbound from the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels to the Front Range. The heaviest westbound traffic is from 2:30-7 p.m. on Friday, and from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Eastbound traffic builds from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday.

When I-70 eastbound traffic gets heavy as travelers leave the mountains and return to the Front Range, CDOT activates the I-70 Mountain Express Lane for 13 miles from Empire to Idaho Springs. Travelers have a choice to take the Express Lane to reach their destinations faster in exchange for paying a toll, or they can continue to ride the other lanes for free. The Express Lane helps to manage traffic and offers a reliable trip during heavily congested travel times.

I-25—Recreational traffic to events and destinations is likely to cause delays along the corridor. Congestion increases in The Gap area, an 18-mile segment of I-25 between Castle Rock and Monument, causing back-ups and vehicles following too closely. This section is two lanes in each direction and has not had significant improvements since it was built many decades ago. Most crashes occur during the weekends, and the major causes are rear-ending and side-swipes.

Mountain Passes—Most passes are open, including US Highway (US) 34 Trail Ridge Road, Colorado Highway (CO) 5 Mount Evans Road from Echo Lake to the summit, CO 82 Independence Pass, Kebler Pass and Guanella Pass.

The top five miles of Mount Evans will close to traffic for the winter on Sept. 5. The road from Echo Lake to Summit Lake will remain open through Sept. 24. The other mountain passes will remain open until winter weather approaches.

Cottonwood Pass in Chaffee County is closed for the summer, with reopening possible in late 2018. County crews are making roadway improvements, including paving the west side of the pass. The east side of the pass (from Buena Vista) is closed at the summit, with access to all forest roads, parking and camping open.

Rural roads and towns—Many towns host special end-of-summer events and activities, which result in an increase in vehicles traveling from metropolitan areas into rural and mountain communities. Highways such as US 285 in central Colorado, and US 550 in southwest Colorado have experienced considerable congestion immediately before and after special events. The public should consider allowing extra time to reach their destinations.

The Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon is closed to private boaters from Shoshone put-in to Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs for safety-critical overhead work on the Grand Avenue Bridge. Boaters can still access the Colorado River from Two Rivers park and locations west.

Know Before You Go

Know road conditions and check traffic cameras by visiting COtrip.org, or by dialing 511 from anywhere in the state. Drivers can also sign up to receive wireless text alerts and/or emails about road conditions.

The "Move Over for Cody Act" stipulates that failing to move over carries the possibility of 12 to 18 months in jail, and a fine up to $5,000. The new law is named for Colorado State Patrol Trooper Cody Donahue, who was killed in 2016 when a tractor-trailer driver drifted onto the shoulder and hit him while he was outside his cruiser responding to another crash.

The state's Move-It Law requires drivers involved in minor accidents on interstates to move their vehicles immediately out of traffic to a safe location.