DENVER -- The extra-long Fourth of July holiday weekend began Friday and with it one of the busiest travel days of the year.
Because the holiday falls on a Tuesday, it means drivers can expect heavy traffic for six days -- from Friday to Wednesday -- according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
CDOT is expecting a huge surge of traffic at the start of the big travel season, especially along Interstate 70 into the mountains.
“Our heavy travel season really starts around the Fourth moreso than Memorial Day weekend because there's still a lot of cold weather during that time and some of the mountain passes aren't open," CDOT spokeswoman Tamara Rollison said. "But now just about all of our mountain passes are open.”
Only Cottonwood Pass remains closed because of late-season snow. CDOT is urging caution on the passes with the hairpin turns.
Expect heavy traffic on westbound Interstate 70 on Friday and Saturday as people escape the city for the holiday. There will be congestion eastbound on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A big influx is also expected on Interstate 25 between Denver and Colorado Springs. CDOT said traffic will be the heaviest southbound from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and northbound from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
"People are doing boating activities," Rollison said. "We also have people from Colorado Springs taking I-25 to reach the I-70 corridor so it can be very, very busy throughout the summer.”
CDOT is looking at longer-term solutions for I-25 traffic, potentially widening the stretch between Lone Tree and Monument, but that is years away.
CDOT will halt all construction projects beginning Friday and through Wednesday.