VAIL - Some holiday weekend drivers might have a few tricks up their sleeves for beating the holiday traffic, but the fact remains that Interstate 70 is likely to be jammed heading eastbound Monday.
The Colorado Department of Transportation offers some advice for holiday weekend warriors: Leave before 11 a.m. or after 5 p.m. to avoid the most congestion along the interstate.
One of the heaviest weekend traffic volumes was Friday between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on westbound I-70. That traffic will be heading in the other direction Monday, as eastbound I-70 is expected to get crowded between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., with CDOT expecting delays of up to one hour.
Stop-and-go traffic continued Saturday, however, with CDOT reporting heavy westbound traffic between Mount Vernon Canyon and Empire, milemarkers 256 to 232. Speeds were ranging between 20 and 40 miles per hour through the area Saturday early afternoon.
Mindy Pannell reported on the Vail Daily's Facebook page that traffic on I-70 was "horrible" Saturday morning.
Vince Talavera Tommasi chose to stay in Denver this weekend for that very
"Monday morning will be a complete horror show on eastbound I-70," Tommasi wrote on Facebook.
CDOT spokeswoman Stacey Stegman said construction and maintenance projects on highways this holiday weekend will be limited to projects that won't affect traffic. She said there shouldn't be any lane closures due to construction.
Stegman expects the number of cars on I-70 to increase from last year. She said the department has been looking at economic conditions that show people are starting to have more discretionary income, which should lead to more travel. Also, Stegman said Colorado's gas prices haven't seen large spikes like in other states, which should also contribute to more holiday weekend travel.
So how do you beat the traffic?
"Stay until Tuesday," said Chris Romer, the Vail Valley Partnership executive director.
Others offered similar advice on the Vail Daily's Facebook page.
"Don't drive on Monday," Rae Jensan said. "Simple."
Blair Kjorvestad thinks a steady speed could solve some of the problem "instead of braking uphill like I always see people doing."
AAA Colorado expects 553,000 Colorado residents to travel during Labor Day weekend, a 3.2 percent increase over last year. This year's spike, if predictions are accurate, would mark the third consecutive increase in Colorado holiday travel this year after a 1.4 percent increase over Memorial Day weekend and a 4.8 percent increase for July 4th travel.
AAA Colorado attributes the spikes to improving consumer confidence compared to a year ago "and American's unwavering desire to travel."
The average price of regular gas in Colorado is currently $3.53 per gallon, while the national average is $3.80.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.