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5 Things To Know About CDOT's Eastbound I-70 Express Lane

express_lane_open.jpg
Colorado Deptartment of Transportation
The toll lane will open in December 2015. Active signage will tell drivers when it is open and how much it will cost.

Drivers may soon see less traffic congestion along eastbound I-70 starting in December 2015 – if they are willing to pay. That’s when a 13 mile stretch of toll lane will periodically open between Empire and Idaho Springs. The part time toll lane will only be open when the Colorado Department of Transportation sees that traffic is getting backed up.

Here’s what you need to know about the new eastbound I-70 Mountain Express Lane.

What Is The Peak Period Shoulder Lane On I-70?

CDOT paved the shoulder of eastbound I-70 between Empire and Idaho Springs, turning it on during peak days throughout the year. When it is not in use, it will revert back to being a shoulder. Message boards will indicate when the lane is open, and display the current toll price.

How Much Will It Cost?

The tolls will range anywhere from $3 to $30, depending on traffic, according to CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford.

“The more people who will use the lane, the higher the price will go to make sure we don’t bog down the lane and that is still travels at about 40 miles per hour.”

Does Carpooling Mean The Toll Lane Is Free?

No, unlike other toll lanes in Colorado, you will need to pay to use this lane no matter how many people are in the car.

What If There Is An Accident Or Bad Weather?

The express lane will probably remain a shoulder, but as Ford points out, CDOT does “try to clear the lane.”

“Very likely the lane will not be open during heavy snow. Frankly, lanes are very hard to see anyway and the last thing we want to do is try to cram another one in there.”

CDOT states that if an incident happens and traffic is detoured either onto or off of the express lane, no toll will be charged.

When Will It Open?

The transportation department and the High Performance Transportation Enterprise say the eastboud express lane will open to traffic Dec. 12, 2015. To start, tolls will be waived for a testing period, meaning the eastbound lane from Empire to Idaho Springs will be free so drivers can become accustomed to dates, hours of usage and the lane entrances. CDOT notes that drivers can "expect to see signage showing different toll rates during the testing period, however, tolls are fully waived."

You can find more information on the lane here.

Editor's Note: This story was updated Dec. 9, 2015 with the official opening date of the express lane and additional details released by the Colorado Department of Transportation.

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