As we gear up for summer, we want I-70 travelers to be aware of the typical summer traffic pattern. I-70 sees lots of weekend travelers from the first week of June through Labor Day, and the information below can help you plan your trip around the congestion. (September weekends see a similar pattern of congestion, but delays are not as significant.) As always, we post a travel forecast for the upcoming weekend at www.goi70.com/travel
Typical Summer Traffic Pattern
Friday WB– There are occasionally moderate delays heading westbound on Friday evenings. Traffic may build between 2:00-3:00 p.m., peak around 4:00 p.m., and end between 6:00-7:00 p.m. These delays might mean an added 20 minutes to a trip from Golden to Vail.
Saturday and Sunday WB – traffic is well-distributed westbound on weekend mornings. The exception to this is the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend where moderate delays may occur from 10:00 am-3:00 pm.
Saturday EB- Saturday eastbound traffic tends to be much lower in volume than Sunday. It is usually spread out enough that, barring an accident, there is not much congestion.
Sunday EB – According to historical data, eastbound traffic starts to build around 11:00 a.m. The peak of traffic is consistently at 4:00 pm all summer long. With folks trying to enjoy every bit of daylight in the mountains, the traffic typically doesn’t diminish until approximately 7:00-8:00 p.m. To avoid the traffic consider staying in the mountains for dinner, or spend Sunday night and head back to the Front Range early Monday morning.
Holiday Weekends – when a national holiday falls on a Monday, you can count on Monday afternoon EB traffic to mimic a typical Sunday pattern, but with potentially more volume. On the flip side, the Sunday of holiday weekends tends to have far less than normal congestion.
Safety Metering – Safety metering eastbound at the Eisenhower Tunnel goes into effect during high volume times. This process controls the flow of traffic eastbound into the Eisenhower Tunnel, so traffic does not back up in the tunnel. Expect eastbound delays when metering is in effect.
Weather- In the summer, weather plays a larger factor in traveler behavior. If rain showers move in early in the day, expect drivers to head back to the Front Range early as well.
This weekend marks the beginning of summer for many of us, regardless of what the calendar says or if schools are out yet. Memorial Day weekend traffic on the I-70 mountain corridor is typically spread out enough that volume and congestion should not be an issue. Eastbound afternoon delays typically don’t rear their ugly heads until we get into June. To play it safe, if you travel eastbound on Monday, don't jump on I-70 until after 6:00 p.m. Construction projects will be put on hold for the three day weekend.
CDOT has announced there will be Memorial Day DUI Enforcement underway that coincides with the start of Checkpoint Colorado, a 100-plus day summer enforcement period. Checkpoint Colorado runs from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, with participating law enforcement agencies conducting three DUI checkpoints during the period. “As Coloradans celebrate the holiday, they may head to concerts, BBQs or other events where alcohol or marijuana may be consumed,” said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. “CDOT urges everyone across the state to plan ahead and have a safe way home. That cab ride home will be cheaper than a $10,000 DUI. It’s simple —if you drink or consume marijuana, don’t drive.”
Enjoy your holiday weekend!
Your input is requested. CDOT is conducting an online survey about I-70 winter operations to get feedback about how this year went and to help them plan for next year. If you traveled the I-70 Mountain Corridor on weekends this winter, head to winter.codot.gov/survey and take the survey.
Your Weekend Travel Forecast:
Weekend traffic due to volume shouldn’t be an issue between now and early-June. The weekend weather forecast confirms it is springtime. Afternoon rain showers might cause some slowing on I-70. Safe travels!
*The GoI70.com Travel Forecast is based on historical data, along with an estimation of how weather, construction, public events and other factors might impact travel.