New record for I-70 over holiday weekend |

New record for I-70 over holiday weekend

The 13-mile tolled express lane on Interstate 70, stretching from Empire to Idaho Springs, features a fluctuating toll for a shoulder designed to function as a lane 73 days per year.
Courtesy of the Colorado Department of Transportation | Colorado Department of Transport

lots of cars

The Colorado Department of Transportation reported the third highest winter weekend traffic count on record with 140,014 vehicles.

Saturday, Jan. 2:

• Second highest 24-hour traffic count on record with 52,515 vehicles.

• Highest overall hourly traffic count set at noon with 4,789 vehicles.

• Third highest hourly traffic count set at 1 p.m. with 4,660 vehicles.

The Colorado Department of Transportation saw record-setting holiday traffic during New Year’s weekend, and thanks to operational improvements along the Interstate 70 mountain corridor, officials say congestion was reduced.

On Sunday, Jan. 3, nearly 54,000 vehicles traveled through the Eisenhower Tunnel, the highest volume day in the history of the mountain passage, according to Amy Ford, director of communications at Colorado Department of Transportation.

During the first weekend of the new year, Jan. 1-3, CDOT reported the third highest winter weekend traffic count on record with 140,014 vehicles.

There were two reported accidents on Sunday, Jan. 3, and traffic continued to move smoothly, Ford said. The accidents were in the general purpose lanes, and CDOT used the new-this-season express lane to help keep traffic moving, Ford said.

CDOT officials reported no major traffic delays over the New Year’s weekend, a significant improvement compared to previous years.


The department of transportation’s 13-mile tolled express lane between Empire and Idaho Springs opened this season in the High Country. Prices will range from $3-$30 on the days the express lane is open — mainly Saturdays and Sundays — but so far the cost has been on the low end, Ford said. The price is expected to increase “as we continue to see traffic continue to build and as people continue to go up to the mountains,” she said.

CDOT will continue to tweak signage and make it clear and understandable how to use the express lane, and when not to use it. The express lane is a converted shoulder to be used during peak periods of the winter, and for safety reasons. Ford says it is important for drivers to recognize that it is a shoulder when it is not open to the public.

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Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

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