Eagle County travelers can expect some heavy holiday weekend traffic
Traffic at the tunnels could be up 8% over 2021
Despite gas prices that average nearly $4.25 across the state, expect a busy holiday weekend on the state’s roads, particularly Interstate 70.
Skyler McKinley of Colorado AAA said that organization expects roughly 730,000 state residents to travel this weekend. Roughly 90% of those people will travel by car.
McKinley said that estimate is roughly on par with 2017, when the Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnels saw May average daily traffic of about 28,300 vehicles.
“We may see increased traffic,” above the past couple of years, McKinley said, adding that this year’s holiday traffic is expected to increase roughly 8% from 2021 for both the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holiday weekends.
The increase will come thanks to visitors from out of state, but also because gas prices may be encouraging state residents to travel, but stay closer to home.
While gas prices are still hitting historic highs nationwide, McKinley said those prices may have the effect of softening demand. On the other hand, the country’s daily supply is still about 700,000 barrels short of the 9 million barrels per day available at this time in 2021.
Margaret Bowes of the I-70 Coalition, a nonprofit coalition of governments and business interests along the I-70 mountain corridor, said she expects “a busy weekend” over Memorial Day. Bowes noted there have been some traffic delays the past couple of years on the holiday weekend. But this year’s addition of a westbound mountain express lane — between roughly Idaho Springs and the junction with U.S. Highway 40 — should help ease some of that westbound congestion, Bowes said.
“We’ve already seen some data from previous weekends, and there’s been a noticeable difference (in congestion) on Fridays and Saturdays. That lane is free for now. Bowes said she expects toll charges to begin in early July.
Eastbound traffic this weekend should be fairly typical during the typical times, and Bowes recommended using the I-70 Coalition’s website for real-time traffic information.
Bowes said the Colorado Department of Transportation’s new Pegasus shuttles may have some impact on weekend traffic.
While the daily Bustang large bus service is aimed at “human services” travelers to Denver, Bowes said the Pegasus vans are geared toward weekend recreation. The vans can carry four bicycles now, and have room for luggage and gear. The vans are also equipped with comfortable seats and USB chargers for devices.
“I think it’s going to be really popular,” Bowes said.