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What's the I-70 Story this winter (2015-16) Colorado? - Page 6

post #151 of 172

Sounds like CDOT considered the toll lane a success.  Will be using the rest of the days during summer weekends, starting with Memorial Day.  Did it seem to make much difference in March and April?

 

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_29855623/i-70-mountain-tolls-made-travel-quicker-even

 

"Tolls on the Interstate 70 Mountain Express Lane this winter never reached anywhere near the maximum $30, but state transportation officials said the option still saved all drivers time — even if they stayed in the free lanes.

In addition to smoother traffic, the 13-mile corridor also recorded fewer wrecks and shorter backups during its inaugural season, the Colorado Department of Transportation said Thursday in an end-of-season report.

The highest cost paid by 42,600 drivers who used the eastbound toll lane was $8 if they had an ExpressToll transponder, or $14.67 for those without one, including the license plate toll processing fee. More typical during the phase-in season were tolls between $4 and $6 (or  $8.33 to $11.50 without a transponder), CDOT said.

There was a residual benefit for those who stayed in the free lanes, CDOT said: Average travel times were 18 percent shorter than in the last few winter seasons.

. . ."

post #152 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

state transportation officials said the option still saved all drivers time — even if they stayed in the free lanes.

 

I didn't notice much benefit to staying in the free lanes but like that the toll lane is there for a faster option.  I saw people using the lane even when the free lanes were moving 10mph over the speed limit.  The greatest benefit IMO was during the week when they freed it up to bypass construction bottlenecks.   I do think if they're only going to flash one price on the sign it should be the non-transponder rate so people unfamiliar with the setup aren't surprised by the bill. 

post #153 of 172
I normally do not drive when the toll lanes are open. However, one day I did and there were two accidents in the toll lane. Clear, sunny and dry. Seems like some people weave in and out. It does seem to distribute traffic which is fine with me.
post #154 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier31 View Post

I normally do not drive when the toll lanes are open. However, one day I did and there were two accidents in the toll lane. Clear, sunny and dry. Seems like some people weave in and out. It does seem to distribute traffic which is fine with me.

I drive I-70 to ski about every other day, mostly weekdays.  I usually go up early and return fairly early (probably by three pm on average). From my observations, the major time saver this season has been much less construction work, and as a result fewer stoppages, lane closures and slow downs.  Less CDOT-created confusion and delay.  Not the new toll lane.   

 

When they have narrowed lanes down to one for what construction there still is, they sometimes have been using the toll lane for this (for much shorter distances due to less construction), mostly at the bridge construction site in Idaho Springs and after the Empire merger.  But they would have had to maintain at least one lane open anyway.   The extra convenience for CDOT may have saved time for CDOT by shortening the construction schedule, but not really on the highway for us, unless the projects are finished more quickly, and we see benefits from this in the future.   So again, little or no benefit from toll lane, so far - but big benefit from less construction.

 

At the hours I drive, I almost never see anyone in the toll lanes, open or not.  

 

Lastly, there has been a drastic reduction in highway patrol presence corresponding to the end of construction on the new part time lane, and to the self-serving "study" CDOT has done to pat themselves on the back.   Idaho Springs and the construction zone in general have been a speed trap the last few years, but not so much once the toll lane has opened.  As a result, fewer police pullovers and distractions have resulted in a smoother, and probably faster, traffic flow.  

 

However, in the last two weeks this police presence seems to have picked up again, especially westbound on the hill descent into the canyon in the mornings.   Maybe the "study" is over.  :)

 

I really question whether CDOT's own evaluations or "studies" of the benefits of their own new toll lane(s) are anything more than self-serving propaganda.  They just want to keep the money flowing into their many more plans to add toll lanes at huge expense and disruption in the metro area and beyond (Boulder toll road, !-25, pending !-70 expansion, and so on).  

 

Does anyone see these as long term solutions, or even effective "band aids?"

post #155 of 172


I'm wondering if we get to go back to our 65 speed limit from the now, what, 2 or 3 year old 55 speed limit. I guess they still consider the whole thing a construction zone. To me, though, it seems clear that they are now suffering from a boy-crying-wolf thing. Nobody seems to follow the 55 limit.

post #156 of 172

I'm with @skier31.   People weaved in and out.  I think some quickly figured out where the cameras are located.  I also think it helped with distribution.  I did use the express lane 6 times and also experienced a complete stop.  I think it's interesting that CDOT using the average numbers claim only about a 3 minute savings.  I know on at least 2 occasions I would say I saved a hec of a lot more.

 

I get why they are touting the express lane success in general.  @ski otter nailed it with

 

" I really question whether CDOT's own evaluations or "studies" of the benefits of their own new toll lane(s) are anything more than self-serving propaganda.  They just want to keep the money flowing into their many more plans to add toll lanes at huge expense and disruption in the metro area and beyond (Boulder toll road, !-25, pending !-70 expansion, and so on)."

  

Honestly,  I can't think of any weekend the lane was open in April but then again my schedule was messed up and I know I missed at least 1 weekend.  Overall I think it has helped.

 

I wonder if enforcing the traction laws really helped this year.  They had a lot of closures for sure.  Maybe more than usual this season? I think the last stat I saw on one of the local Denver media outlets was 143.

post #157 of 172
I probably spent $30 on the toll lane over the season and saved two hours. Well enough spent in the context of the destruction skiing reaps on my family budget in general.

I still think the overall widening made any real difference. I continue to be appalled by the lack of ability of drivers to navigate a basic winding road. I-25 is becoming a slow mess between Larkspur and Greenland because the road takes two big curves. And that is an open space section.

Maybe tolls just reflect the true cost of incompetence, and therefore are successful by definition?
post #158 of 172

Good to hear impressions of people who drive I-70 regularly on weekends during the winter.

 

The press release by CDOT on 5/5/16 had a lot of stats, way more than were included in the Denver Post article.  I found the comparison of specific times on MLK Day between 2012 and 2016 interesting.  There were 27 accidents in the corridor from Jan. 1 to April 10, a few less than the average for 2013-15: four accidents in the toll lane, two that were on the edge of the toll lane, and 17 in the non-toll lanes.

 

  • Comparing Martin Luther King Holiday 2012 to 2016 for all lanes between Empire and Idaho Springs:

    • At 4 p.m.: Around 23 minutes in 2012; and around 17 minutes in 2016. The Express Lane reduced travel times by 26 percent

    • At 7:30 p.m.: Around 17 to 33 minutes in 2012; and, around 14-16 minutes in 2016. The Express Lane reduced travel times by as much as 52 percent.

post #159 of 172

I seem to recall that because the toll lane is so narrow, it can only operate X days a year. Given that summer traffic is even worse than winter traffic, I wonder if they're "saving" a reserve of days for the summer.

post #160 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by bounceswoosh View Post

I seem to recall that because the toll lane is so narrow, it can only operate X days a year. Given that summer traffic is even worse than winter traffic, I wonder if they're "saving" a reserve of days for the summer.

As I recall, X=72. My understanding is that, yes, some days remain for summer peak travel times.
post #161 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by UllrIsLord View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bounceswoosh View Post

I seem to recall that because the toll lane is so narrow, it can only operate X days a year. Given that summer traffic is even worse than winter traffic, I wonder if they're "saving" a reserve of days for the summer.

As I recall, X=72. My understanding is that, yes, some days remain for summer peak travel times.


Pretty close.  Sounds like Memorial Day weekend, the toll lane will be put to use again.

 

The end of the 5/5 Denver Post article:

 

"CDOT says it likely will keep the express lane closed during the mountain mud season until Memorial Day weekend.

Under its agreement with federal transportation officials, CDOT can open the express lane only 73 days per year, since it's still considered a shoulder lane. With 44 percent of that allotment used up, the rest are reserved for the summer travel season, when I-70 gets even more use than in the winter and heavier traffic stretches out over more hours of the day, especially on holiday weekends.

That means the biggest test of the I-70 express lane still may be yet to come."

post #162 of 172
Dang forgot about leap year. 😜
post #163 of 172

I believe today was the 1st time the toll lane has been open since March and without missing a beat you had those few that were working that toll lane like it was a passing lane.  It's like some know exactly where the camera's are located.  :confused     

post #164 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike78 View Post
 

I believe today was the 1st time the toll lane has been open since March and without missing a beat you had those few that were working that toll lane like it was a passing lane.  It's like some know exactly where the camera's are located.  :confused     


Are you talking about Mon, June 13?  I thought the idea was to only open the toll lane on weekends or holidays.  Or was there a traffic problem due to an accident?

post #165 of 172

Yesterday,  Sunday.  Based on the electronic signs over the weekend, it appeared that CDOT was anticipating high traffic volumes and opened the lane.  No accidents.

post #166 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike78 View Post
 

Yesterday,  Sunday.  Based on the electronic signs over the weekend, it appeared that CDOT was anticipating high traffic volumes and opened the lane.  No accidents.


Ooops, mis-read the date on your post. :o

 

I kept looking for any report of the toll lane being in use for Memorial Day weekend but never found any.

 

Does traffic get heavier during fall color weekends?  Wondering if CDOT will try to save any days for that period.

post #167 of 172
Fall usually isn't an issue - it's the heavy summer tourist season, which by my eyes is going to be big as it started early and is going to be fueled smile.gif by pent up demand released by low gas prices.
post #168 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

 

Does traffic get heavier during fall color weekends?  Wondering if CDOT will try to save any days for that period.

 

It's worth noting that I-70 Colorado doesn't exactly have fall color the way, say, the Shenandoas do. Trees change colors and drop their leaves in about a week. The exception are aspen, but to really appreciate them you usually have to hike. And it's a short season for those, as well.

 

IME this area of Colorado has Summer and Winter and about a week between each as they transition. No real spring or fall. Even popular resorts are ghost towns between golf season and ski season.

post #169 of 172

Summer traffic is worse as it is less predictable.  I have encountered horrendous traffic in both directions at all different times in the summer.  At least ski traffic is somewhat predictable.  

post #170 of 172

Anyone know how many days are left for the Express Lane?  Noticed this in another thread on 7/18.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike78 View Post
 

and yesterday I paid the $7 for the Express Lane.  When I saw the electronic sign say "safety metering at tunnel 60 minute delay possible" I interpreted a level of ambiguity.  I decided to drive over Loveland Pass, hit the Bakerville exit, and use the Express Lane.  Again it doesn't matter,  winter or summer, people are still hopping between lanes. 

 

Usage tip: The green arrow in the Quote above is a "forward" link.  Hover over it until you get the pointing hand pointer, then click to go to the original post/thread.

post #171 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Anyone know how many days are left for the Express Lane?

I wonder if that is really being tracked. It was running on Sunday for $7.
post #172 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by NayBreak View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Anyone know how many days are left for the Express Lane?

I wonder if that is really being tracked. It was running on Sunday for $7.


Hmm, did the math based on the comment in the paper that there was 44% left as of early May.  That implies that if all the weekends were used then there would be enough days to mid-Sept.  But that would not leave any days for Nov-Dec.  Seems as if the allotment will be enough.  Someone has to know the number of days used so far.

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