Heavy traffic is expected along the I-70 mountain corridor today for westbound traffic. Heavy traffic westbound will continue tomorrow morning and early afternoon. Motorists traveling eastbound along this corridor Saturday and Sunday during the afternoon and evening hours should anticipate heavy traffic volumes and delays. Metering and/or Wave Escorts may be implemented along I-70 eastbound prior to the Eisenhower Tunnel to ensure public safety inside the tunnel during peak times.
CDOT is working to ensure the volume of motorists traveling to the mountains are safe and encourage the traveling public to ensure their vehicles are properly equipped for conditions, to drive for winter conditions when appropriate and to anticipate heavy delays when traveling during peak times.
In order to ensure public safety in the Eisenhower Tunnel, CDOT may implement metering prior to the tunnel. Metering is used sparingly in this area to ensure that emergency personnel can access the tunnel during an incident. Should weather conditions require it, CDOT will implement wave escorts further down the mountain at Silverthorne to ensure that eastbound traffic can move steadily up the hill without having to stop and encounter possible traction issues. Wave escorts are designed to keep traffic rolling, resulting in fewer delays on a heavily congested weekend in inclement weather.
The Colorado Department of Transportation cannot allow backups in or around the Eisenhower Tunnel for the safety of the traveling public. With increased traffic numbers, particularly during weekend peak travel times, CDOT is implementing innovative methods of traffic control to ensure traffic flow moves continuously in this area. Wave Escorts is one of these methods. When implemented, motorists should anticipate stops in Silverthorne or Frisco where they will wait for an escort up the mountain by Colorado State Patrol. Troopers will be stationed ready to lead waves of motorists up the mountain and through the Eisenhower Tunnel.
By holding traffic in these locations during adverse weather, snow plows are given an empty roadway to perform echelon plowing. Echelon plowing is when snow plows line up at an angle along the corridor. This type of plowing is the most effective and efficient method of clearing snow and ice from the roadway as evenly as possible in the least amount of time, providing motorists a clear and safe roadway.
CDOT encourages all drivers using this stretch of roadway to be prepared for the possibility of a storm as that is likely along the corridor this weekend and throughout the remainder of the winter season. Motorists should anticipate delays due to heavy traffic and winter weather and are encouraged to prepare their vehicle accordingly. Stocking your vehicle with essentials like water, blankets, windshield wiper fluid, hand warmers and nonperishable food items is highly encouraged. Preparing vehicles prior to a trip and driving according to conditions is essential to winter travel along this corridor to maintain safety and reduce delays.
“Change Your Peak Time” is a new campaign that has been launched to encourage mountain visitors to avoid peak travel times when traveling back to Denver. Skip the rush between 1p.m. and 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Instead travelers can “Press Play, Avoid Delay” by spending an extra hour having fun in the mountains instead of spending an extra hour in peak traffic. CDOT has partnered with the I-70 Coalition, a consortium representing the mountain communities and resorts, to give travel tips and travel forecasts, and to offer discounts, deals and incentives for travelers interested in avoiding traffic by staying in the mountains for an extra hour or two. Peak Time Deals at www.goi70.com are updated regularly, and list locations of restaurants, entertainment options and retailers along the I-70 corridor offering weekend discounts. In addition to deals offered near resorts, Idaho Springs and Georgetown also offer incentives for travelers who want to leave early to beat the peak traffic, or who have already hit the road but would like to take a break from traffic on their way home. We encourage motorists to take advantage of these offers and to change their travel times in order to take advantage of all that our mountain towns have to offer.
CDOT continues to develop strategies to address incident response and is implementing plans to prepare this weekend for heavy volume and possible adverse weather conditions. Among the strategies that CDOT will employ:
• Expand CDOT’s I-70 West Courtesy Patrol to aid and assist stranded motorists with disabled vehicles
• Work with stakeholders such as commercial vehicle providers to manage traffic flow on the corridor
To receive real-time updates about road conditions in your area, visit www.coloradodot.info and click on the green cell phone icon in the upper right hand corner of the page. Information about weekly lane closures will be available at www.coloradodot.info/travel/scheduled-lane-closures.html. Live road conditions are available atwww.cotrip.org, downloading the CDOT Mobile app or by calling 511 from anywhere in the state. Updates are also available via Twitter @coloradodot and be sure to “Like” our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/coloradodot.