TIPS: Hitting the road for Fourth of July weekend? Expect heavy traffic statewide

DENVER, Colo. — Heading out of town for the long holiday weekend coming up? Expect heavy traffic!

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is reminding drivers to expect heavy traffic in many areas of the state over the Fourth of July weekend as the summer travel season begins.

All CDOT construction projects will be suspended statewide from the morning of Friday, June 30 through the morning of Wednesday, July 5. The only exception is for emergency operations.

All projects will resume their regular schedule on July 5.

According to CDOT, here are some key travel areas this summer and what to expect:

I-70 Mountain Corridor

  • More than 3.6 million vehicles traveled through the I-70 Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels last July through September, with the highest number of over 1.3 million in July.
  • Heavy traffic expected westbound I-70 this Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, and eastbound I-70 late Tuesday, July 4, especially between Summit County and the Denver area.
  • 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.

Mountain roads and passes

  • Travelers can also expect heavy traffic on Colorado’s rural roads and highways.  Many towns host special summer events and activities, generating more 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. Allow extra time to reach your destination.
  • 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.
  • Cottonwood Pass 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.
  • CDOT warns all roadway users, especially commercial truck drivers to be attentive and use extreme caution when traveling over mountain passes, like US 160 Wolf Creek, in the Southwest region of the state. From 2011 to 2015, there have been 49 semi-truck crashes on the west side of Wolf Creek Pass.  A majority of the crashes occurred at the switchback curve near the Wolf Creek scenic lookout area.  CDOT conducted a road safety audit of Wolf Creek Pass during summer 2016. The results from that audit will help identify potential safety issues and possible opportunities for future safety improvements of the pass.

I-25 between Denver and Colorado Springs

  • Traffic is expected to be at its heaviest on southbound I-25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and northbound from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays due to recreational activities in the southern part of the state.  Plan ahead to avoid heavy traffic.
  • Also in this area, a Planning and Environmental Linkages study is underway between Monument and Lone Tree to identify immediate and longer-term solutions to this critical stretch of highway, connecting the state’s two largest cities. CDOT is soliciting public input to analyze and address issues related to safety, mobility and travel reliability.

Some tips to know before you hit the road:

  • Know road conditions and traffic cameras by visiting COTrip.org, or calling 511. You can also sign up to receive text alerts and/or emails about road conditions.
  • The state’s “Mover 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.

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