DENVER — If you’re tired of traffic on I-70 heading up to the mountains, there may be some good news for you: a new express lane will be opening on the mountain highway, beginning this weekend.
The lane on eastbound I-70 and begins approaching Empire on the way to Idaho Springs. The lane will only be open open on weekends during peak hours and travel months, usually around 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from December through March and June through August and only if the weather is good.
CDOT says they will also open the lane on holidays when traffic volumes are typically higher in the mountains.
Speeds in the express lane are estimated to stay around 40 to 45 mph, saving drivers about 30 minutes on their commutes.
Traffic has tended to back up in the past on the way up to the mountains on weekends for some skiing or snowboarding. CDOT is hoping this express lane can help alleviate some of the weekend mountain traffic.
Testing of the express lane will begin this weekend with its opening and it will be free to use for the first weekend.
Unlike some other express lanes in the state, there will be no free HOV carpooling or motorcycle option, no trailers or trucks for this lane.
“The price could range anywhere from 3 to 30 dollars,” said Amy Ford with CDOT. “If we’re at 5 dollars and we see that the lane is filling up and that travel speeds are slowing down, then we’ll start raising the price. And the market, frankly, what people are willing to pay will make the dependence on how high the price goes.”
As CDOT notes, travelers are never forced to pay a toll and can always choose to travel in the adjacent free general purpose lanes.
If you don’t have an ExpressToll sticker, the license plate toll will cost an extra $10. An ExpressToll pass could make a great Christmas gift for the snowboarder or skier in your life if they don’t already have one — you can buy an ExpressToll pass on their website.
For more information on the new I-70 toll lane, including toll prices, visit the CDOT website.