CDOT works to reduce drive time from the mountains

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DENVER -- The Colorado Department of Transportation has been warning drivers that I-70 eastbound was going to be packed on Monday. To lessen the traffic burden, CDOT began metering traffic early in the afternoon, hoping to get ahead of it.

A steady stream of headlights marked Presidents Day rush hour along I-70. CDOT began putting out advisories and reminding drivers to ride-share and avoid peak driving times. But, with the fresh layer of snow on Monday, for some, it was too good to miss an all-day powder opportunity.

Michelle Woodruff said, “We knew what we were getting into but there was snow and there hasn’t been for a few weeks, so it was worth it.” Robin Hobart agreed, “Today was a good ski day so people stuck around and tried to get the most out of it.”

This winter season has certainly been a test for CDOT. Amy Ford, the Director of Communications said, “We cannot have situations like we had last year where we had people with delays that were 4+ hours.”

That’s why CDOT is working to educate drivers. “Better tires, knowing how to drive around the snowplows and frankly, understanding the different ways you can get up into the mountains,” Ford said. But, she added, “There’s no cure all for I-70 at this point in time.”

At the Colorado Traffic Management Center in Golden, crews watch the interstate and update the road signs with wait times and advisories, and also decide when to meter traffic along the interstate. But, with big crowds and only two lanes heading eastbound to get down, CDOT said traffic is inevitable. Ford said, “You anticipate at least an hour extra when you’re driving back. Our goal is to make that delay as reliable as we can.”

Next fall CDOT is working on an express toll lane, paving the shoulder just enough so it can be used during peak driving times.