Interstate 70 express lane begins tolling this weekend | VailDaily.com

Interstate 70 express lane begins tolling this weekend

The 13-mile tolled express lane between Empire and Idaho Springs will be used during peak periods this winter, mostly weekends and a few holidays, weather permitting. Cost will vary between $3 and $30, depending on conditions.
Courtesy of the Colorado Department of Transportation |

Upcoming I-70 Lane Closures

Monday, Dec. 21, Tuesday, Dec. 22, Wednesday, Dec. 23

4 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Eastbound, mile markers 232-241; one lane closed for electrical work, signage and work at Water Wheel Park.

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Westbound, mile markers 232-241; one lane closed for electrical work and Exit 241 bridge construction.

The Exit 241 bridge demolition is scheduled to take place in January.

More information: Visit www.i70ppsl.com or call 303-223-6581.

EAGLE-VAIL — A 13-mile peak-period express toll lane on eastbound Interstate 70 will give drivers heading to Denver this weekend the chance to pay to avoid traffic.

Colorado Department of Transportation turned the eastbound shoulder into a 13-mile tolled express lane between Empire and Idaho Springs, one of the busiest stretches on the I-70 corridor.

CDOT tested the tolling equipment and system last weekend for free, but paid tolling begins Saturday, Dec. 19, and Sunday, Dec. 20.

HOW IT WORKS

“It worked really well on Sunday. Traffic was moving beautifully. They got used to the lane and then this weekend we’ll turn on the tolls and start using the toll lane to manage the congestion.”Amy FordDirector of communications, CDOT

Payment for using the toll lane happens one of two ways. The department of transportation recommends purchasing the E-470 Pass, which is a sticker or a switchable transponder, allowing drivers to be billed.

Alternatively, anyone can drive on the express lane and be charged via their license plate, which is photographed along the lane. The license plate billing will cost a little more, as it requires a manual process that has associated costs.

The lane is not separated by any barriers but will be designated with lines on the road. Drivers are encouraged to enter and exit the toll lane in designated areas, namely entering at the beginning near Empire. Once commuters enter the toll lane, they are charged for the entire 13-mile stretch. Drivers wishing to exit to Idaho Springs will have a four-hour grace period to return to the toll lane before being charged again.

‘TRAFFIC WAS MOVING BEAUTIFULLY’

The express lane will not be used if extreme weather conditions exist.

“It’s a really constrained corridor,” said Amy Ford, of CDOT. “The moment you have active snow and active plowing in there, it’s not safe. Drivers will have a hard time seeing the lane markings, you’ve got plows that are going slower and it eliminates the benefits of those lanes.”

The lane is tolled to partly pay for the project, but mainly to ensure the lane serves its purpose and controls congestion. If it’s too cheap, then too many cars get in it and create traffic. If it’s too expensive, then fewer drivers will opt for it and congest the other two lanes.

“It worked really well on Sunday,” Ford said. “Traffic was moving beautifully. They got used to the lane and then this weekend we’ll turn on the tolls and start using the toll lane to manage the congestion.”

For current road and weather conditions, call 511, visit http://www.cotrip.org or download the CDOT I-70 mobile application to your smartphone.

Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.