Summer I-70 traffic volume could be high |

Summer I-70 traffic volume could be high

Robert Allen
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY – Interstate 70 traffic volume through Colorado’s Eisenhower Tunnel is trending slightly above average – despite the economic recession – as the peak season of July and August nears.

“It’s always hard to predict traffic, of course, but I would say we’re trending toward a very busy summer,” said Brian Jordon, traffic specialist with Colorado Department of Transportation.

Some 43,207 vehicles used the tunnel’s east- and westbound lanes on Friday. The tunnel’s volume record, set in January, is 50,422 vehicles in one day.

CDOT’s top 10 volume records range down to 45,981, and four of them are within a day of the Fourth of July.

According to a report from AAA, the mountain states are the only region in the United States where travel is expected to grow, relative to 2008. The region has a lower unemployment rate than elsewhere in the country, and lodging and gas prices are noticeably lower than last year.

Plenty of Colorado residents from outside Summit County visited Breckenridge on Sunday to explore the art fair and to participate in the Avon Walk For Breast Cancer event – as well as and other happenings along Main Street.

But cautious spending still seems to be the order of the day compared to previous years.

“It seems to have affected the art show,” said Rebecca Gale, an artist from Elizabeth who had a tent set up near the Riverwalk Center.

As motorists roll into the mountains, CDOT is making the most of construction season with a number of road improvements along Interstate 70. That’s good in the long run, but not always a joy for those caught in the cone zone. CDOT has road work schedule for various parts of I-70 throughout the summer from Golden to Vail.

The segment between Vail Pass and East Vail caused a gnarly traffic jam for Frisco resident David Cunningham in the past few weeks.

“It was outrageous traffic, huge traffic,” he said of the drive over the pass. “It took me an hour and a half.”

He said signs alerting drivers that the two eastbound lanes would converge to one came way too late. The bottleneck caused traffic to stack as far as 4 to 5 miles back – on a weekday afternoon, he said.

“You went up and just boom and you were kind of stuck. I’m not a traffic consultant, but I know that they can do a better job than that,” Cunningham said, adding that it was the contractors to blame and not CDOT.

Jordon said he hadn’t received any complaints regarding the segment, but that delays occasionally happen during such projects.

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