Floyd Hill Project
This stretch of I-70 is one of the most congested locations on the westbound I-70 mountain corridor and is also is heavily impacted by adverse weather conditions. CDOT, along with a diverse group of stakeholder, has selected a preferred alternative/design for this project and it is currently under environmental review. The project will run westbound I-70 from Floyd Hill to the Veterans Memorial Tunnels and add a third travel lane, replace a deficient bridge and improve the geometric design of the interstate, among other improvements. Funding for the full project has not yet been identified. Find project details here.
West Vail Auxiliary Lanes Project
CDOT, with input from stakeholders, has identified a preferred alternative/design that is currently under environmental review. This project proposes a third lane of travel in both the eastbound and westbound directions on the west side of Vail Pass between mile points 180 (East Vail) to 190 (the top of Vail Pass) as well as reconstruction of tight curves, wildlife underpasses/fencing, water quality improvements, truck ramp and parking enhancements, median glare screens and relocation of two miles of the recreation path that is currently next to I-70. The latest technology will be used to add variable speed limit and message signs and a way to close the pass immediately through a remote system when necessary. Funding has been identified for Phase 1 of this project, which will focus on the eastbound direction improvements. Learn more about the project here.
I-70 Mountain Express Lane
The I-70 Mountain Express Lane project utilizes the existing shoulder as a travel lane eastbound only from Empire to Idaho Springs to add capacity to the I-70 mountain corridor. The express lane operates as a tolled express lane during highly congested times. During these peak times, eastbound I-70 is expanded from the existing two lanes to three lanes by using the shoulder as a travel lane. All motorists can use the extra lane but those that do will be required to pay a toll. When traffic volume is light, this managed extra lane will revert to a shoulder and will no longer be available for traffic. Toll amounts will vary depending on the demand in that lane and will be used to manage that demand so that lane flows at a targeted 45 mph. Details on how the tolling works can be found here. Traffic data confirms that this express lane is working well! Travel delays were reduced, through-put of vehicles increased, and the time it takes to clear accidents has been reduced. For more detailed project information, visit https://www.codot.gov/programs/expresslanes/eastbound-i-70-mountain-express-lane.
Westbound Mountain Express Lane
This lane operates similarly to the eastbound Mountain Express Lane in that it utilizes an improved shoulder to serve as a third lane of travel during peak times only. The lane opened in July 2021 for testing. No tolls will be collected when the lanes are open during weekends and holidays until testing is complete.
CDOT’s Winter Operations and Maintenance Management Plan
CDOT has a Winter Operations Plan in place that includes three main goals: 1) Improve Travel Time Reliability of the Corridor, 2) Reduce Major Closures and 3) Improve Customer and Stakeholder Satisfaction. They hope to accomplish this through the following operational focus areas:
1. Active Traffic Management (ATM) – Implement strategies to improve the safety, reliability, and mobility of the corridor. Traffic control measures such as ramp management, Snowplow Escorts, quick clearance of traffic incidents, commercial vehicle staging and real-time traveler information will be utilized.
2. Winter Maintenance Operations – Provide effective 24×7 snow plow operations over 200 miles of the I-70 corridor. CDOT intends to decrease cycle times during snow removal operation and decrease down time of equipment.
3. Commercial Vehicle Management – Reduce the impact of commercial vehicles in the I-70 mountain corridor through more effective activation/deactivation of chain law and improved traveler information. Continue coordination with Colorado State Patrol on chain law enforcement, improve US 6/Loveland Pass winter maintenance, and hold commercial vehicles when public safety might be compromised.
4. Traffic Demand Management – Provide ongoing education and information on safe winter driving, best times to travel, and available incentives to change travel time. CDOT will work to offer and promote transit options such as van pools and ski busses.
5. Operations Command and Control – Conduct real-time management and dispatching of CDOT resources and assets in the corridor.
The I-70 Coalition appreciates and applauds CDOT’s efforts to improve the operation and maintenance along the I-70 mountain corridor.
Transportation Demand Management Strategies
Long term solutions for the I-70 corridor are a major focus for the I-70 Coalition, but identifying and implementing short term strategies that can positively impact congestion in the near term are critical. Transportation Demand Management (TDM) actions will target the I-70 traveler and result in decreased traffic volume during peak travel times. The 2022 TDM Work Plan of the I-70 Coalition TDM Committee can be viewed here.
Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnel Fire Suppression System
According to CDOT, this system helps protect the traveling public as well as the entire tunnel itself, which is a critical asset to the highway system. This $20 million project was funded through a federal Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant, state transportation funds, and funds appropriated by the General Assembly. Major project elements include:
- A water-only deluge fire suppression system which is capable of suppressing a large fire (up to 35 megawatts) in the first two minutes of the event
- A system capable of providing water for 60 minutes with two deluge sprinkler zones as well as 500 gallons per minute from the existing standpipe system
- A new drainage system
- A Fiber Optic Linear Heat Detection system
The vast majority of this project is “invisible” to the traveling public, occurring in the ventilation shafts above the tunnels; resulting in minimal traffic disruptions. More details can be found at https://www.codot.gov/projects/Eisenhowerfiresystem.
Identified Future I-70 Projects
To learn more about future I-70 projects and identified solutions, refer to the I-70 Record of Decision which outlines I-70 improvement through 2050.
The I-70 Record of Decision does not authorize specific projects, but does identify a list of specific and other highway improvements. Funding has not been secured for these improvements, but as funding becomes available the below improvements are identified as priorities. In no specific order, these identified highway improvement projects are:
- Six-lane highway from Floyd Hill through the Twin Tunnels, including a bike trail and frontage roads from Idaho Springs to Hidden Valley and Hidden Valley to US 6
- Empire Junction (US 40 and the I-70 highway) interchange improvements
- Eastbound auxiliary lane from Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels to Herman Gulch
- Westbound auxiliary lane from Bakerville to Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels.
- Truck operation improvements
- Curve safety improvements west of Wolcott
- Safety improvements and six-lane highway capacity through Dowd Canyon
- Multiple interchange improvements at 26 locations along the Corridor
We offer two options to keep I-70 travelers informed of current
activity and future plans for the I-70 mountain corridor.
The I-70 Alert e-newsletter keeps you up to date on the big picture, including current and future policies, projects, studies and initiatives aimed at fixing I-70.
GoI70.com eBlasts keep you informed on potential impacts and opportunities related to your trips on I-70. These short updates contain timely info on construction projects, new transit options, CDOT winter operations and strategies for beating the crowds.
Frequency: An average of 1-2 times/month