As Snow Jams Holiday Travel, CDOT Says I-70 Winter Plan Is Working
Despite delays and closures due to increased traffic and adverse conditions leading into the busy holiday season, the Colorado Department of Transportation said they are striving to keep the main highway running though the high country open during winter storms, and delays down to a minimum.
CDOT's Amy Ford said innovative traffic management techniques like "escort plowing" allowed for safe travel during the most recent storm which brought more than 2 feet of snow to some areas of the mountains.
The agency is also experimenting with new metering procedures at the Eisenhower tunnel so travelers aren't stuck on steep sections of the interstate.
"Obviously we want to make sure we keep the tunnel clear and safe as people travel through it, because we can't have cars stacked in the tunnel," Ford said. "But at the same time we want to make sure that we're not implementing it where people are stuck on the hill."
Ford said the agency has been working with the Federal Highway Administration to get permission for the new metering procedures which should be in place later this winter.
While there were recent storm closures, Ford believes the length of time the interstate closed was reduced and that travelers were more informed.
"It's one thing for you to know the road is closed, but it's another thing to understand why we're doing it," Ford said. "So sometimes you're going to see us say 'safety closures', because it really is designed to protect the traveling public's safety because you have an accident ahead, or we're mitigating avalanche danger. So we're going to communicate the type of closure that we're having."
Ford said the agency will continue to have an I-70 corridor manager as well as an I-70 incident manager who will oversee the highway. It's their job to track the weather, traffic flow, managing and deploying snow plows as well as dealing with any accidents that may occur.