DENVER — Re-engineering is making a dent in congestion along the Interstate 70 mountain corridor, but Colorado transportation managers are turning to psychology to persuade motorists to at least delay getting on the road during peak travel times.
The Colorado Department of Transportation and a consortium of local governments and resorts along I-70 are offering special deals on food, entertainment and lodging to keep travelers off the highway during weekend and holiday rush periods.
If the incentives offered in the “Change Your Peak Time” campaign keep people off the highway for even an hour or two on a Sunday, that would be a victory, I-70 Coalition program manager Margaret Bowes said.
“We just want to remind them that they can stay tied up in traffic or they can stay and play a little longer,” Bowes said. “It’s no easy task to change someone’s behavior, but we are giving them an incentive to do so.”
The deals posted at goI70.com range from a $1 house coffee at a shop in Idaho Springs to half off a Sunday night stay at a Vail hotel. They include tempting meal deals and discounts on ski and snowboard equipment purchased after 4 p.m. in Dillon.
The campaign launch is especially timely since this coming weekend is typically one of the heaviest travel periods of the season.
That’s because on the Saturday and Sunday before the Super Bowl, people tend to get off their couches and head to the high country. It’s also the final weekend of the Winter X Games in Aspen, which will send an extra load of spectator traffic through the corridor.
“Traffic is pretty predictable and we know it will be the heaviest this weekend,” Bowes said. “We are hoping to get people to get on the road a little sooner or later and maybe even spend a Sunday night and save the hassles of fighting traffic.”
The widening of the eastbound bore of the Twin Tunnels in Idaho Springs has helped reduce travel times. Other planned innovations — including the creation of a toll lane during heavy traffic periods — also are likely to help, CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford said.
“These little pieces will start hopefully adding up,” she said. “Now we hope we can change behavior. That will help a lot.”
“We just want to remind them that they can stay tied up in traffic or they can stay and play a little longer.”
I-70 Coalition program manager