Heavy holiday traffic expected to start Thursday | VailDaily.com

Heavy holiday traffic expected to start Thursday

EAGLE COUNTY — More than 665,000 Coloradans are expected to hit the road this weekend, and it may seem that they’re all headed here.

Heavy holiday weekend traffic is expected to begin Thursday, and the Colorado Department is urging a little planning and patience.

Last year, westbound travel times on July 3 peaked at 97 minutes in the late afternoon. On July 4 around noon, travel times topped 100 minutes.

The heaviest travel day for eastbound traffic is projected to be Sunday afternoon.

What to do?

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The kind folks at CDOT are offering a couple conversation starters for those afternoon drives. For example, before you even get in the car you can talk about changing your travel time.

Some local businesses are offering actual discounts after 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

CDOT launched its “Change Your Peak” campaign during ski season, encouraging motorists to skip the mountain return rush between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays, and enjoy themselves a little longer.

“It’s important to remember that eastbound I-70 traffic can be frustrating in summer too, and we believe one of the best options for avoiding those peak travel times is to take advantage of Peak Time Deals,” said Amy Ford, CDOT director of communications.

Vail’s La Tour restaurant, for example, is offering food and drink specials starting at $2. Other deals along the I-70 corridor are designed to lure motorists off the highway.

For details, go to Go to http://www.goI70.com/deals.

Gas prices won’t slow us down

Those 665,000 Coloradans expected to drive 50 miles or more this weekend is about average, says AAA Colorado. It’s an increase of less than 1 percent from last year, and 10.5 percent more than Memorial Day.

Nationally, AAA projects 41 million Americans will travel between Wednesday, July 2 and Sunday, July 6.

Rising gas prices won’t slow us down much. The average price for regular unleaded is up from $3.48 early in June to $3.60 during the last week of June.

The current price of gas is 7 cents lower than last year.

Johnny Law is watching

If you’re pulled off the highway passing a bottle around, do not pass it to your designated driver.

Drinking and driving is bad. And deadly. And expensive.

Across Colorado, 76 law enforcement agencies and the Colorado State Patrol are firing up plans for sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols. It’s all part of their latest Heat Is On campaign, beginning Thursday and running through Monday.

Among them are the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and every police department in the valley.

“Be smart about your decisions this weekend,” said Darrell Lingk, CDOT’s director transportation safety. “Planning ahead to designate a sober driver is the easiest way to make sure you keep yourself and others out of harms way.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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