Weekend tunnel traffic cracks top 10 | SummitDaily.com

Weekend tunnel traffic cracks top 10

SUMMIT COUNTY – Traffic volume passing through the Eisenhower Tunnel this weekend set a couple records – and businesses along the Interstate 70 corridor confirmed it was a busy one.

But highway traffic into and out of the mountains isn’t quite what it was last year, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

Sunday saw the fifth-highest all-time hourly traffic count. Beginning at 1-2 p.m., 4,235 vehicles passed through the tunnel hourly. The three-day weekend from Friday to Sunday recorded the eighth-highest traffic count in the tunnel’s history, at 133,392 vehicles.

“This is the time of year for big numbers at the Eisenhower Tunnel,” CDOT executive director Tom Norton said in a press release. “It’s the height of the summer season, the weather’s great, and a lot of children are still on school vacation, so the higher traffic counts are expected.”

Last summer, CDOT traffic watchers recorded the fourth-highest 24-hour traffic count at the tunnel on Aug. 11 and the second-highest three-day weekend volume Aug. 9-11.

Even with the high volume this weekend, the year’s total traffic is behind that of 2002. Through July 31, tunnel cameras have recorded 6,210,142 vehicles, more than 175,000 off the previous year.

Staff at the Silverthorne Texaco station corroborated both reports. Managers at the gas station, just off the westbound I-70 exit ramp, said this past weekend was “typical” – and by typical, they mean typically a zoo, with motorists coming in surges and complaining about the traffic as they headed eastbound on Sunday.

The Texaco staff also said it could tell traffic has been lighter than last year because the station’s sales are lower than last year.

Silverthorne Police Sgt. John Minor said traffic was heavy Sunday when he was on duty, “but I didn’t think it was a top-10.”

Minor said he knows when traffic gets bad because police officers take over manual operation of the traffic signals along Blue River Parkway.

“Once the traffic backs up to Third or Fourth Street, we start manually operating the lights,” Minor said. “We try to clear out the lanes turning left onto the interstate. This year, we’ve only had to do that once. But typically, August is the heaviest traffic, and we’ll usually do it three or four times then.”

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or rwilliams@summitdaily.com.

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