DENVER (KDVR) — Winter traffic on Interstate 70 is on the rebound.
More than 1.1 million drivers traveled through the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels in January, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. At an average of more than 36,000 drivers a day, that’s the highest January average since 2020.
CDOT’s records show traffic through the tunnels was on a generally steady incline starting in 2012, coinciding with Colorado’s population boom. Those numbers saw a big drop after the pandemic hit in 2020, although still among the highest averages from the last two decades.
The numbers are only expected to grow as Colorado continues to see healthy amounts of snowfall this season. That includes this Presidents’ Day weekend — “a three-day stretch that historically draws some of the highest mountain traffic totals of the year,” CDOT said — and then spring break.
Are you prepared to drive on I-70?
Drivers are urged to check weather conditions before hitting the road and to make sure their vehicles are prepared for high-country maneuvering — as well as the high amounts of fellow travelers on the interstate.
CDOT also pointed to two notoriously tough stretches of I-70 in the winter — Vail Pass and Glenwood Canyon. Just this week, I-70 was closed for hours in Glenwood Canyon after a semitruck rolled onto its side, spilling cargo and blocking both lanes of traffic.
“Motorists speeding on snow and ice-packed roads and vehicles with inadequate tires and tread lead to closures and crashes on these corridors and others along I-70,” CDOT said.
How to stay safe on an I-70 road trip
If you’ve got travel plans, how can you avoid a traffic headache? CDOT gives a few tips:
- Avoid traveling during peak times
- Use safe public transit if you need a ride, like Bustang, Snowstang or Bustang Outrider
- Be patient during safety metering, which stops drivers on I-70 to help control traffic flow
- For drivers who can swing the cost, express lanes are available
Drivers are also reminded that the state’s traction law is in effect on the I-70 mountain corridor from Morrison to Dotsero from Sept. 1-May 31.
Drivers are required to meet certain traction requirements, like minimum tread depth and specific tires.