I-70 West Traffic Management
Traffic incidents range from a flat tire to a semi rollover crash. Traffic incidents on the I-70 mountain corridor can create major delays or cause a full closure of the interstate. For example, incidents involving commercial vehicles account for 57 percent of the total road closures in winter on this corridor. Reducing incident clearance times improves the reliability of the corridor for all travelers.
CDOT employs several strategies to help motorists enjoy safe, reliable travel on the I-70 corridor in winter. Specifically, motorists can expect such traffic control measures as ramp management, snowplow escorts, quick clearance of traffic incidents, and real-time traveler information through cotrip.org and 511.
Because Eisenhower Tunnel has no shoulders, when heavy traffic congestion or incidents poses the risk of back-ups, traffic must be stopped, or safety metering must be implemented to clear traffic and maintain access to the tunnel interior for emergency response vehicles. When road conditions on the approaches to the tunnel are adverse, vehicles lose traction and cause significant delays (such as the three-hour delays between Silverthorne and the tunnel on Feb. 9, 2014).
The highest travel delays of the winter occur when heavy traffic congestion necessitates metering Eisenhower Tunnel. CDOT will use the following mitigation strategies to achieve this:
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 back-ups from reaching the interior of the tunnel.
- Conduct snowplow escorts from Silverthorne to Herman Gulch during adverse conditions to provide optimal road conditions and safe speeds during periods when back-ups into Eisenhower Tunnel are most likely.
- Snowplow escorts involve short holds of traffic to allow CDOT snowplows to lead an escort of traffic with the Colorado State Patrol up steep mountain passes in adverse conditions. This allows for traffic to travel on freshly treated roads at a safe, controlled speed that helps reduce the occurrence of winter-related crashes and vehicle traction issues.
Commercial Vehicle Staging
- When conditions require, close eastbound I-70 to commercial vehicles at Dotsero when road conditions and traffic volumes are such that a public safety emergency is likely and imminent.
- Conduct FHWA Traffic Incident Management training for corridor first responders.
- Establish performance measures for traffic incident clearance.
- Conduct routine incident debriefings and performance assessments.
- Stage CDOT Heavy Tow and Courtesy Patrol units at locations with identified peak hour crash patterns, as well as increase hours of patrol units.
- Work with partner agencies to implement snowplow escort procedures at steep grade locations in the corridor during adverse weather and traffic volumes periods with the high likelihood of crashes and spinouts.