IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. - Work is starting Wednesday on the new "peak period shoulder lane" on part of Interstate 70 in the mountain corridor.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is widening the shoulder on a 13-mile stretch of eastbound I-70 from U.S. 40 in Empire to Idaho Springs.
When the project is completed in fall 2015, the shoulder will be used as a third lane only during peak travel times.
Although the two existing lanes will remain free, the peak period shoulder lane will be tolled.
"The express lane will be dynamically priced to keep traffic moving meaning that prices will fluctuate depending on the amount of traffic in the tolled lane," CDOT said. "Prices will be lower when the lane is being underutilized during peak times but as congestion in the lane increases, the price of the toll will increase as well."
CDOT believes the use of a shoulder toll lane during peak times will cut travel time from the Eisenhower/Johnson tunnels as much as 48 percent.
"The 13-mile I-70 Eastbound Peak Period Shoulder Lane Project is an innovative approach to maximizing use of our existing highway infrastructure when it is needed most," said CDOT Resident Engineer for the Mountain Corridor, Benjamin Acimovic. "By using the shoulder instead of adding a full lane, we are striving to balance the needs of the traveling public with those of the natural environment and local communities adjacent to the highway."
Work on the project will start at U.S. 40 in Empire and work its way east to Idaho Springs.
CDOT said crews will also replace the SH 103 bridge over I-70 and reconfigure Exit 241 on the east side of Idaho Springs.