Quandary: Examining how to treat the I-70 ExpressLane when it’s closed
I want to know how the state Patrol is going to treat CDOT’s I-70 express lane (a great practical joke). When it is closed, is it a shoulder? Thank you, Very Nervous
The Colorado Department of Transportation has worked hard to get information about their new pet-project out to the public, but there does seem to be a plethora of questions and concerns left over. The lane is actually only supposed to be operational about 70 days a year, mostly on holidays and for weekend travel, especially in the winter. Unfortunately, it is not open any time there are hazardous conditions, like icy roads. So what do you do the rest of the year? Treat it like you would a Patriots fan and avoid it.
You see the rest of the year, the toll lane will function as a shoulder for the side of the highway to be used in case of emergency. Now emergency doesn’t mean that everyone else on the road is going really slow, and you want to go fast; that would be illegal. Instead, the lane is used as a pull-off if a truck needs repair or if there is an accident. Colorado State Patrol will not be happy with you if you decide to skip 13 miles of traffic only to find yourself nose first in the middle of an accident scene. They will be more than willing to show you their displeasure as well, but there is one simple way to stay on the good side of Johnny Law: Do not use the toll lane unless it is open.
While we’re talking toll lanes, there is one more word of advice this old goat can give: Technology will save you money. While I’ve never been a real early-adapter (I still think fainting goats are just a fad), CDOT does have a transponder that will keep you from getting real angry when your bill comes. You see, the price printed on their big flashing signs telling you how much of your soul, I mean cash, will pay for your way to Denver if you have a transponder. If you don’t, you will face a higher fee.
If you think your decision-making days are done once you’ve decided to get a transponder, you are sorely mistaken. Your first decision will be if you want to get one that can switch between being a toll and HOV transponder. If you’ve made this decision then your next step is to create an account. Sadly, this will cost you $35. You get the money back — sort of — but you have to pay $35 in pre-paid tolls to be able to open an account.
So basically, if you want to take the toll lane first make sure it is open then pull out those old algebra skills and plug in some kind of risk/time/money equation and decide how much 13 miles means to you.
Quandary, an old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to any question about life, love and laws in the High Country. Have a question for Quandary? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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