IDAHO SPRINGS — A toll lane will soon be added on eastbound I-70 near the revamped Twin Tunnels to help ease traffic bottlenecks during high volume parts of the week.
The idea will be discussed during a series of public meetings scheduled for later this year.
The exact amount of the toll drivers can pay to avoid I-70 traffic has yet to be determined. However, motorists will likely see quick results on the highway once the toll lane opens up by late 2015, said Amy Ford, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Could reduce travel time
“Potentially this could reduce travel times by as much as 45 percent on I-70,” Ford said.
The toll lane will stretch from U.S. 40 at Empire Junction to the western terminus of the Twin Tunnels in Idaho Springs. It will be built using the existing shoulder on I-70 with pavement added at interchanges and on bridges, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The toll lane will be open during peak travel times like Sunday and Saturday afternoons, when people are coming back to Denver from the mountains, Ford said.
CDOT says that in 2010, drivers slogged along I-70 at speeds less than 20 mph for 35 percent of the time on Sunday, the day attracting the highest volume of mountain traffic.
Some motorists divert to the frontage road along I-70, which makes traveling tough for local drivers, CDOT said.
During off-hours, the lane will be used as shoulder.
The $34 million shoulder lane project is part of the $646 million Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance & Partnership program approved last week by the Colorado Transportation Commission.