The Colorado Dept. of Transportation started work on the Eastbound I-70 Peak Period Shoulder Lane (PPSL) project in mid-July. It will create a temporary eastbound express lane on I-70 between Idaho Springs and Empire. Completion for is scheduled for fall 2015.
The project, part of CDOT’s comprehensive plan to improve travel in the I-70 Mountain Corridor, will upgrade 13 miles of Eastbound I-70 within CDOT’s existing right-of-way. The upgrades will create a wide shoulder that, during peak travel periods, will operate as a third travel lane as a tolled option for motorists.
CDOT says the express lane will be “dynamically priced” to keep traffic moving, meaning that prices will fluctuate depending on the amount of traffic in the tolled lane. Prices will be lower when the lane is being underutilized during peak times but as congestion increases, the price of the toll will increase as well.
Utilizing the shoulder to create an express lane within the existing I-70 right-of-way during peak periods instead of adding a full lane provides several benefits:
• Reducing travel time from the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels to the top of Floyd Hill by as much as 48%
• Providing drivers the choice of a new optional lane
• Capitalizing on previous improvements made in the corridor
• Allowing for faster speeds in all lanes, thus decreasing overall traffic time
• Improving safety
Mountain Corridor Constructors, a partnership led by URS Corp. supported by Lawrence Construction Co., will lead the construction. The first phase of shoulder improvements are scheduled to begin at U.S. 40 in Empire and move east toward Idaho Springs. The project will also replace the S.H. 103 bridge over I-70 and reconfigure Exit 241 on the east side of Idaho Springs.
“The 13-mile I-70 Eastbound Peak Period Shoulder Lane Project is an innovative approach to maximizing use of our existing highway infrastructure when it is needed most,” said CDOT Resident Engineer for the Mountain Corridor, Benjamin Acimovic. “By using the shoulder instead of adding a full lane, we are striving to balance the needs of the traveling public with those of the natural environment and local communities adjacent to the highway.”