Heavy traffic expected on area highways for Thanksgiving weekend

DENVER - Holiday travelers found blue skies and dry pavement as they made their way to or from the metro area on Wednesday.

CDOT said drivers should anticipate heavier than normal traffic for the next few days.

"We wish all Coloradans a happy and safe Thanksgiving weekend," said CDOT executive director Shailen Bhatt. "We're doing what we can to minimize traffic impacts since we know there's going to be a lot of people out traveling the state's highways during the holiday period."

Bhatt said that to reduce delays, most CDOT construction projects will be suspended statewide by Wednesday afternoon. Projects will resume their regular schedules on Monday, Nov. 28. Projects located in rural or low-traffic areas may be operating Friday.

By 2 p.m. Friday, traffic was already heavy in the Genesee area.

An electronic sign reminded motorists to "keep your (cigarette) butts in the car," because of a "fire ban in Clear Creek and Jefferson Counties." A few miles west of the sign, it was evident why. There are countless strands of beetle kill straddling both sides of I-70.

CDOT said the heaviest traffic at the Eisenhower - Johnson Memorial Tunnels was expected between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

Last year, 44,234 vehicles traveled through the tunnel on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Traffic dropped to 20,257 on Thanksgiving Day.

The five-day holiday weekend saw a total of 172,822 vehicles pass through the tunnel.

CDOT said that was much lower than the record of 201,887 vehicles that traversed the tunnel in 2006.

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