The Colorado Department of Transportation has started work on the Eastbound I-70 Peak Period Shoulder Lane project creating temporary eastbound express lane between Idaho Springs and Empire, but commercial trucks will not be able to use them.

The area is one the most heavily congested along the I-70 mountain corridor and it not uncommon for drivers traveling on Sundays during peak hours to experience speeds averaging less than 20 miles per hour.

The project will upgrade 13-miles of Eastbound I-70 with wide shoulder that, during peak travel periods, will operate as a third travel lane that will be a tolled option for motorists. 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.

The project is scheduled for completion in Fall 2015.  

According to the Colorado DOT using the shoulder to create an express lane within the existing I-70 right-of-way during peak periods instead of adding a full lane provides several benefits:

  • Reducing travel time from the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels to the top of Floyd Hill by as much as 48%;
  • Providing car drivers with the choice of a new optional lane;
  • Allowing for faster speeds in all lanes, thus decreasing overall traffic time; and
  • Improving safety.

“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.”