DENVER – The Colorado Department of Transportation is asking the public to weigh in on plans to add a new express lane on westbound I-70 during peak travel times.
CDOT already added the I-70 Mountain Express Lane heading eastbound between US-40/Empire and Idaho Springs in 2016. Now, it’s planning a similar project heading the other direction.
CDOT says the toll lanes are needed because there are more cars on the road than ever before and those numbers are only expected to increase.
The eastbound lane was a controversial idea at first after articles were published calling it the most expensive toll lane in the country. However, CDOT’s website has touted the lane’s success, saying it improved travel times by 21 minutes during those peak travel times and sped up the amount of time it took police to clear crashes from I-70 by about 17 minutes.
However, both toll lanes are only a temporary solution to the problem. CDOT has identified long-term plans to fix the congestion in the area, including a new tunnel and more lanes. It still needs to find the funding for those projects, though, and they are still years out.
In the meantime, the Federal Highway Administration has laid out specific guidelines for how often these express lanes can be open.
Under the agreement, the eastbound lane can be open no more than 20 percent of the year, including holidays.
It can also be open for no more than 7.5 percent of the annual hourly time. CDOT expects the limits on the westbound lanes to be similar.
The cost is also expected to be similar to the eastbound express lane. The prices there vary depending on how bad traffic is at any particular moment.
Construction is scheduled to start in early 2019.