Week in Summit: Delays continue on I-70 through Thanksgiving | SummitDaily.com

Week in Summit: Delays continue on I-70 through Thanksgiving

Traffic snarls will continue through Thanksgiving for travelers on I-70 west of Idaho Springs.
David Gidley / Special to the Daily |

Travelers along the I-70 corridor in the Colorado Rockies can look forward to continued delays resulting from scheduled lane closures through Thanksgiving as work winds down on the Mountain Express Lane west of Idaho Springs and testing continues on a fire suppression system in the Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnels.

“We will see traffic delays this weekend,” Colorado Department of Transportation communications director Amy Ford said. The delays may exceed 30 minutes as crew finish paving and sign installation for the new toll lane.

Following the completion of construction work, CDOT will have a few additional closures to test new equipment, but Ford said the entire project should be completed by Dec. 12, just in time for the Front Rangers to do a Christmas shuffle into the mountains.

For now commuters should anticipate lane closures on Saturdays between Georgetown and Idaho Springs. CDOT anticipates 30-minute delays eastbound on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., and 30-minute delays westbound between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

When completed the Mountain Express Lane project will convert a 13-mile shoulder lane into a toll road to alleviate the weekend traffic crunch. CDOT said drivers can expect to save half an hour of road time, but will be required to pay a toll ranging from $3 to $30. The intent is to have about 750 to 900 vehicles per hour in the lane, with sliding tolls used to monitor traffic volume.

“Over the first month or so, it will be a test,” Ford said. “We will use the pricing as a way of managing how congested the lane gets.”

Summit Ski Resorts all in

This past week saw the remainder of Summit County ski resorts crank up the chairlifts and open the gates for the season’s first of many days to pacify powder addictions.

Copper Mountain Resort, which had planed to open on Friday, moved the date forward to Wednesday, Nov. 11, as Mother Nature had provided over a foot of fresh snowfall, in addition to manmade contributions.

To begin the winter sports season Copper opened intermediate trails Rhapsody and Main Vein. On Saturday, the resort opened the Easy Rider beginner learning area and Eagle Jib Park. Lifts currently open include, of course, the American Eagle Lift, Easy Rider Lift, as well as the Excelerator lift. Copper has 18 inches of snow mid-mountain and 20 inches upper mountain.

The change of date allowed Copper to honor Veterans Day by offering free skiing and riding for all active or retired military and their dependents. They also provided free hot chocolate and donuts to the first 400 people in line for the amended opening day.

The fresh blanket of snow Wednesday morning helped launch Copper’s season on an appropriate note and also set the stage nicely for Breckenridge Ski Resort’s opening on Friday.

Although some called the estimate “Breck bar math,” the resort reportedly received a foot of precipitation from Wednesday’s weather system.

“Because of recent snow accumulation and the efforts of Breck’s snowmaking and grooming teams, the resort is happy to announce it will have more than 80 acres ready for Friday’s opening,” Gary Shimanowitz, vice president of Mountain Operations said in a statement.

To start yet another season of fun in the snow and sun, Breck opened three runs (Springmeier, Trygves and Middle 4 O’Clock) on Peak 8 this Friday. By the following day two more openings on Peak 8 — intermediate Dukes trail and Park Lane Terrain Park — added to the festivities.

“Despite the storm, we’re still going to open with limited terrain on Peak 8, but it helps us get more open sooner,” said Kristin Petitt Stewart, the senior communications manager for Breck. “We knew the temps were going to be favorable for snowmaking, we knew the storm was setting up nicely, but you can never predict what you’re gonna get opening day.”

Snow sport lovers can take solace now that all four Summit County ski resorts, and the ever popular Loveland, have some terrain open and a whole lot more coming down the pipe.

Take ‘em to court

Breckenridge police may have a lawsuit on its hands due to an alleged misappropriation of a backpack.

Last week police were dispatched to Blue River Plaza after receiving reports of an unattended backpack that had been sitting in the plaza for several hours.

The responding officer reportedly noticed the same backpack earlier in the day, so he collected the pack and took it to the station until the owner could be found.

Less than an hour later the same officer returned to the plaza after police received reports of a seemingly intoxicated man screaming that his backpack had vanished. Attempts to contact the man’s cell phone proved unsuccessful.

After another failed phone call a short while later, the man called back to police, and sounded angry and nearly incoherent. The annoyed backpack owner advised police that he would be contacting his lawyer. The officer said he would be happy to speak to the man’s legal representative, but in the interim his wayward pack could be retrieved from the station the next morning. No official word yet on any pending litigation.

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