Expect Heavy Traffic for Final Summer Weekend

PROMO 660 x 440 Logo - CDOT Colorado Department of Transportation
Published Friday, September 1, 2017

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reminds drivers to anticipate heavy traffic in many areas of the state due to the number of events and activities taking place over the Labor Day weekend.  

All CDOT construction projects will be suspended statewide by late Friday afternoon to reduce potential delays.  The only exception is for emergency operations.  Projects resume their regular schedule on Tuesday, September 5.

Safety first:

  • CDOT encourages motorists to plan ahead, check out COtrip.org for the latest travel conditions
  • Avoid heavy travel times: early afternoon to evening as traffic heads out on Friday and mid-morning through the afternoon on Saturday and on Monday.  
  • Buckle up, put the phone down, drive sober
  • Give plenty of space between your vehicle and the one ahead of you
  • Check your blind spots
  • Watch for wildlife crossings
  • Drive the speed limit
  • Heed the Move Over law  

Traffic trends:

Heavier than normal weekend traffic is expected on Interstate 25 along the Front Range and on I-70 west of Denver.

Last year's Labor Day weekend traffic numbers at the I-70 Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels:

 

Westbound

Eastbound

Total

Friday, 2016

32,456

17,196

49,652

Saturday, 2016

28,264

16,225

44,489

Sunday, 2016

16,681

25,515

42,196

Monday, Labor Day

16,541

31,763

48,304

Total

93,942

90,699

 184,641

 

Traffic volumes have been increasing about 50,000 vehicles per month on the I-70 Mountain Corridor over the last few years.    

What travelers can expect:

  • I-70 Mountain Corridor - Up to one hour delays going westbound from Denver to the mountains on Friday and Saturday and traveling eastbound Monday from the Eisenhower -Johnson Memorial Tunnels to the Front Range.  Heaviest traffic westbound  is from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and traffic builds eastbound from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday.

When I-70 eastbound traffic gets heavy as travelers leave the mountains and return to the Front Range, CDOT activates the I-70 Mountain Express Lane for 13 miles from Empire to Idaho Springs.  Travelers have a choice to take the Express Lane to reach their destination faster in exchange for paying a toll or they can continue to ride the other lanes for free.  The Express Lane helps to manage traffic and offers a reliable trip during heavily congested travel times.

  • I-25 - Recreational traffic to events and destinations is likely to cause delays along the corridor. Congestion increases in the gap area, an 18-mile segment of I-25 between Castle Rock and Monument, causing back-ups and vehicles following too closely.   This section is two lanes in each direction and has not had significant improvements since it was built many decades ago.  Most crashes occur during the weekends and the major causes are rear-ending and side-swipes.
  • Mountain Passes - Most passes are open, including US Highway (US) 34 Trail Ridge Road, CO 5 Mount Evans Road from Echo Lake to the summit, CO 82 Independence Pass, Kebler Pass and Guanella Pass.  

The top five miles of Mount Evans will close  to traffic for the winter on September 5. The road from Echo Lake to Summit Lake will remain open through Sept. 24.  The other mountain passes will remain open until winter weather approaches.

Cottonwood Pass in Chaffee County Is closed for this summer season, with possible reopening in late 2018. County crews are making roadway improvements, including paving the west side of the pass. The east side of the pass (from Buena Vista) is closed at the summit, with access to all forest roads, parking and camping open.

  • Rural roads and towns -  Many towns host special end of summer events and activities which result in an increase in vehicles traveling from metropolitan areas into rural and mountain communities. Highways such as US 285 in central Colorado and US 550 in southwest Colorado have experienced considerable congestion immediately before and after special events. The public should consider allowing extra time to reach their destinations.

The Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon is closed to private boaters from Shoshone put-in to Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs for safety critical overhead work on the Grand Avenue Bridge.  Boaters can still access the Colorado River from Two Rivers park and locations west.

Know before you go!

  • Know road conditions and check traffic cameras by visiting www.cotrip.org, or dialing 511 from anywhere in the state. Drivers can also sign up to receive wireless text alerts and/or emails about road conditions.
  • The "Move Over for Cody Act" stipulates that failing to move over carries the possibility of 12 to 18 months in jail, and a fine up to $5,000. The new law is named for Colorado State Patrol Trooper Cody Donahue, who was killed in 2016 when a tractor-trailer driver drifted onto the shoulder and hit Donahue while he was outside his cruiser responding to another crash.
  • The state's Move-It Law, requires drivers involved in minor accidents on interstates to move their vehicles immediately out of traffic to a safe location.