CDOT pondering more I-70 improvements to alleviate traffic headaches | SteamboatToday.com

CDOT pondering more I-70 improvements to alleviate traffic headaches

Interstate 70 in the mountain corridor.

Colorado Transportation Commissioner Kathy Connell had two unenviable jobs to complete over the weekend.

The Steamboat Springs resident and dog advocate volunteered to pick up dog excrement on Blackmer Drive and also had plans to read a hefty transportation commission packet that included the topic of finding solutions for how to ease traffic congestion on Interstate 70.

The latter task is likely the more difficult one.

It will likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make any changes that will drastically improve the traffic flow on the interstate.

Connell said commissioners are continuing to talk about such things as how to increase the number of days a new express lane can legally be used and how to address the bottleneck at Floyd Hill in Clear Creek County.

"We're really in a think tank with a lot of issues," Connell said. "It's a tough nut to crack to get it where we need it. It really is a conundrum."

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Westbound traffic tends to become more troublesome on I-70 at Floyd Hill because of how the interstate makes a sharp turn at the bottom of a hill.

Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Shalien Bhatt told the Denver Business Journal in May that ideas being pondered for the stretch of interstate included either stacking the stretch of road similar to a part of Glenwood Canyon, or realigning the highway.

Both options would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 million to $500 million, Bhatt said.

Meanwhile, CDOT has been hosting a series of public meetings to collect residents' thoughts on the future of I-70.

But projects are still likely years away.

I-70 improvements will likely become more important as the state's population continues to grow.

A combined 2.1 million vehicles traveled on the I-70 mountain corridor in the winter and summer seasons last year, according to CDOT.

But on peak days, travel has become a headache on some portions of the interstate.

According to CDOT data, it should take just 55 minutes to travel westbound from C-470 to Silverthorne. But when the road is clogged with travelers heading to the mountain for a weekend getaway, it takes about two hours and 48 minutes to make that same journey.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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