Tue August 23, 2011

CDOT Tries New Method to Ease I-70 Backups

State transportation officials say an experiment using police cars to regulate traffic along Interstate 70 in the mountains has yielded ‘promising’ preliminary results.

The August 13 test was conducted on an 8-mile stretch of eastbound I-70 between Silverthorne and the Eisenhower Tunnel. Using their emergency lights – the Colorado State Patrol and Silverthorne police entered the traffic flow, setting a speed limit of between 50 and 55 mph. The technique is called “rolling speed harmonization.”

“When you have everybody going different speeds, the conflicts and potential for accidents just skyrocket,” says Department of Transportation spokeswoman Stacey Stegman.  “If everyone just goes a little slower and they all go around the same (speed), you don’t have accidents, then you don’t have the accident cleanup and congestion -- and trying to get going again on an icy hill.”

After analyzing the data – Stegman says the results look promising. She says the next step is to try out the pace car technique on a Sunday, when traffic is even heavier.  CDOT plans a second test in late September over a 27-mile stretch of eastbound I-70.