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I-70 Nightmare

post #1 of 56
Thread Starter 
I don't know if this topic has been beaten to death, but are there any creative solutions out there for the nightmare that is I-70, at least for Front Range day or weekend skiers? Central and No. CO's great snow year has brought with it a real dark side: horrendous traffic jams on I-70, some days beginning at Floyd Hill on the east and Vail Pass on the west. My normal 52 minute drive to Copper is now 90 mins, at best, if I leave any time after 6:15 am on a weekend day. Drive to Vail took 3.5 hours last Friday evening (usually 1:15 hrs), and I won't tell you about what happened to both e-bound and w-bound I-70 west of tunnel last Saturday after some idiot from Cali tried to have a go at a CDOT snowplow. Lets just say I-70 is the only available Flight for Life helo landing pad. Its getting to the point where even the best conditions in the last ten years are not enough to overcome the I-70 stress.

I've been to Cali and Fla recently and, while they leave a lot to be desired, those 4 and 5-lane highways sure move a lot of people in a hurry, and render irrelevant big rigs, RV's, and old ladies in 1985 soobies as traffic blockers. On I-70, they simply translate to a one lane road.

Anyone else tired of G-town and I-Springs arguments about how more lanes will adversely impact their towns? I can tell you there are many like me who, once on I-70 won't exit into and enjoy those towns, simply for fear of losing one's spot in the I-70 queue. A more relaxing drive would induce me to enjoy what those towns have to offer more than I do now.

I have to laugh at those who ask and answer on this board how soon one must leave a CO resort in order to make a flight from DIA; inevitably, the answer is at least an hour less than would be safe.

I've heard the arguments supporting the monorail to Summit/Eagle Counties, but somehow I just can't see the attractiveness of the world's largest car rental lot that would be required at the terminus to make that alternative attractive to anyone.

End of rant.
post #2 of 56
I70 sucks for sure, but comparing it to California are you kidding me? Have you driven I80 to Tahoe when everyone else is trying to get up there? You might do alright until you try to get off at Donner Summit or Truckee. Then it's park your car and crack open a 12 pack. It is a freaking parking lot.
I have found that 70 is lame on Saturdays and generally Sundays are an easy drive. You are right that the drive sucks after 6:15 on Saturday. Then again the drive home on Saturday is usually fairly easy while on Sunday it can be an nightmare.
I think they should just widen that Sucker to 12 lanes all the way to Vail.
post #3 of 56
Having spend a good deal of time living in Cali (your word, not mine), I can assure you that more lanes are not always the best answer. What generally happens is that the first month or two is bliss after an expanded freeway opens. That then gives way to more traffic on that freeway then ever before, leading to the same congestion that was there beforehand. You actually encourage more drivers that way, since some had already quit using that highway due to it's current congestion. Think of all those frustrated skiers that don't make the trip (or at least not as often). Once a widened freeway opens up, those skiers would then come out in droves and re-congest the freeway. It's a no-win situation, unless more people were willing to share rides or use some other form of alternative transportation.



Powdr
post #4 of 56

I-70 blows

I don't have a solution, but IMO, in only 6" of snow, I-70 sux far worse than I-80 in Truckee. I was stuck in traffic from Vail to Denver for 5.5 hours on a Sunday night at 5pm.

I-80 does get jammed because there's storms that drop more snow than that more frequently in a season, i.e. 15-24" in 24 hours, but in general, there's a lot of traffic moving at a decent speed down the hill on Sunday night.
post #5 of 56
On the Sunday two weeks ago (Jan 29) it took 2 hours to drive Dillon to the tunnel. That’s what - 8 miles? Loveland Pass was closed (and rumor has it some stretch of 285 was, too) so everyone had to go through the tunnel. The periodic closures weren’t even for hazmat and accidents (mostly) – it was because the CO2 levels were too high inside it from the parked and idling cars.

I live in the front range, I acknowledge your rant and yes it sucks sitting in traffic when you have somewhere else better to be. It sucks even more going uphill in a manual car. But don’t you sort of enjoy the impromptu community that’s formed – a guy on the roof of a Tacoma playing guitar, someone walking a dog, a guy peeing out the window, someone walking around offering up a bag of mission tortilla chips…… you have to take what you can get sometimes. Be entertained. And also remember that not everyone is as fortunate as all of us; not everyone gets to drive up to the mountains routinely – or even at all. It could be construed that we are spoiled whiners, although I personally wouldn’t take it that far.

Widening I-70 is not the solution because eventually it will have to be reduced back down to 2 lanes due to topography and that would just change the location of the gridlock, but with more people involved. And those people will still drive like stupid drooling wombats. But do you really want to move a ton of people in a hurry? Is that what we’re all about? Should California’s thoroughfares be applied here indeterminately?

post #6 of 56
They are already coming out in droves. The current discussion is about adding an extra lane on 70. I just think they should go huge and set it up for the next 30 years. Currently on the drive home, once you hit Floyd Hill (where 70 goes to three lanes) it is no problem cruising back to town. Before that where 70 is two lanes, it's stop and go.
post #7 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by killclimbz
...They are already coming out in droves...
No, actually you haven't seen anything yet. Wait 'till word gets out that the freeway is wider (more lanes). You won't believe what you see. This isn't made up. It's well understood and studied by traffic managers. Human nature is at play here and there will be more people on the road than ever before.
post #8 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by killclimbz
I70 sucks for sure, but comparing it to California are you kidding me? Have you driven I80 to Tahoe when everyone else is trying to get up there? You might do alright until you try to get off at Donner Summit or Truckee. Then it's park your car and crack open a 12 pack. It is a freaking parking lot.
I am with you on this one. We used to drive SF to South Lake Tahoe or Kirkwood. Kirkwood was usually better, even though it was a much smaller road. 50 and 80 SUCK on the weekends, much worse than anything I have ever seen in CO, except for one summer Sunday afternoon when there had been an enormous pile-up accident and 2003, when I-70 was closed for three days due to abandoned cars, monumental snow, and avalanches.

I remember at least four times when it took in excess of six hours to get to or from Tahoe. One time it took 10 hours. (Included some napping in the car, when we didn't go anywhere at all for 2.5 hours.) We started driving to Tahoe at 4:30am on Saturday (when it usually only took about 3 - 3.5 hours) and heading home after brunch on Sunday because we couldn't handle the drive that all the other ski-weekenders were making.

I-70 is OK-->Good if you can be flexible on schedule. We have had no problems on weekdays or Sunday mornings. We usually wait to drive home on Sunday until after dinner.

I wouldn't say that widening the highway is any kind of answer. Always seems to fill right up. I would be more into a monorail, myself. . . or maybe a private jet or helicopter? Anyone buying?

Seriously, though, I think this is more a factor of out-of-control sprawl and development on the Front Range than anything else. No one seems to be considering the fact that not only is traffic an issue, but also that CO is entirely dependent on surface water (meaning it's a very limited commodity here) when they keep granting water taps and permits for new housing developments. . .

Mollmeister
post #9 of 56

Caution: rant back

AaAAk. horrid idea. I used to live in dreaded XXXX, FL and XXXX, CA, and the highway monster was the ruination of any semblance of sane life. The thought of one of those hideous umpteen lane highways bifurcating the rocky mountains is enough to make you puke.

Take the ski train to Winter Park and leave your car in the driveway.

Birth control in the water!

Actually, it'll probably take care of itself. The ski experience is becoming so disneyfied that pretty soon it'll be so similar to a day at the mall or the arcade that no one will bother to make the drive. Then we'll all be bitching about the traffic to Silverton:
post #10 of 56
How about renting a condo up in Frisco or Silverthorne? I did it last year and didn't wait once in traffic. I know this isn't possible for everyone, but it may be worth the extra $200/month that it costs to do.

Somehow this year, I've been pretty lucky too- I live outside of Boulder and I usually leave by 6:30- thru the canyon near Golden on US-6 and onto I-70. I'm there before the lifts start, ski for 5-6 hrs and leave by 2-3:00... no traffic.

As for a realistic solution, I like the idea of an HOV lane in the middle of the existing highway... heading east at night and west in the morning. Personally, I'd love to see those damn tractor trailers off the road when there are chain restrictions- they were the lone reason last Friday for the backup on Vail Pass, since they couldn't get up the hill even WITH chains.
post #11 of 56
You just need to hope for dry years with little snow in the future. That will solve your problem without having to pave more of the state.
post #12 of 56
As bad as I70 is in the Winter it's 10x worse in the summer.
post #13 of 56
I've heard some people talking about "stacking" another set of lanes on top of the current highway (double-decker roadway). Interesting idea, but certainly doesn't solve the problem if you believe that additional lanes really aren't the solution.

It has been especially bad this year - I only got caught in the bad stuff once last season and I've already been trapped 3 or 4 times this season. I mostly travel during the "off" hours, but have still managed to get snagged this season. It's made me seriously start looking into buying some property up there so I can relax all weekend and only do the drive once.
post #14 of 56
I've traveled a lot in my day and I70 is by far the worst traffic I've experienced. I am longing for the days of $800+ season passes and no 4-packs. It's amazing how much the skiing experience in CO has changed in just 10 years...it sucks. I am lucky that I rent a condo up in Silverthorne with friends so I don't have deal with the traffic as much, however, its to the point where I have to depart Friday night and head back to Denver Monday morning because the Saturday morning/noon and Sunday evening/night traffic is so bad.

Whatever they do in terms of infrastructure it will take 10-15 years to complete it. Granted it would be more difficult here, but I am surprised we don't have an inexpensive bus system like Utah. The ski train isn't a real option due to the cost and fact that it only goes to WP.
post #15 of 56
Move to Colorado Springs: highway 9 to 24 is never backed up .

It used to be that it was 6 of one, half dozen of the other as to whether it was better to go 24 to 9 or 25 to 470 to 70 in order to get to Summit County, now, there's no question at all: go over Hoosier Pass, don't even think of I-70.

J
post #16 of 56
I find living in Summit Co. works pretty good. I'd really just recommend not coming up the weekends. Do whatever you have to do to get here during the week. Track the storms and show up on a Thursday powder day. It's amazing how many less people are here during the week.
post #17 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinn
I find living in Summit Co. works pretty good. I'd really just recommend not coming up the weekends. Do whatever you have to do to get here during the week. Track the storms and show up on a Thursday powder day. It's amazing how many less people are here during the week.
This is the plan next season, this season my girlfriend is stuck only able to go on weekends. Next winter: weekday skiing all year!

Actually, I was thinking about the drive for you folks in Denver, and if it really is 5+ hours, it's definitely faster, though more miles, to drive over Hoosier Pass and 285. It's 26 miles from Breck to Fairplay on 9 - about 40 to 45 minutes in the winter. From Fairplay it's 67 miles to C470 on 285 (285 is Hampden Ave in Denver, so to Hampden & 470) call that about 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on road conditions/how fast you drive. Total trip time to downtown Denver is probably a little over 3 hours, which is definitely better than the 5+ hours it's taken some of you on recent weekends - and if you live in the south part of Denver your drive time could be 2 to 2.5 hours.

The only pointer I would make if you do try this route some time is this: do NOT speed in Alma or Fairplay - the speed limit through those towns is 25 on hwy 9, break it at your own peril. Outside of the towns though: get a radar detector and enjoy the Colorado autobahn, err, I mean the highways through South Park.

J
post #18 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Dunn
How about renting a condo up in Frisco or Silverthorne? I did it last year and didn't wait once in traffic. I know this isn't possible for everyone, but it may be worth the extra $200/month that it costs to do.

Somehow this year, I've been pretty lucky too- I live outside of Boulder and I usually leave by 6:30- thru the canyon near Golden on US-6 and onto I-70. I'm there before the lifts start, ski for 5-6 hrs and leave by 2-3:00... no traffic.

As for a realistic solution, I like the idea of an HOV lane in the middle of the existing highway... heading east at night and west in the morning. Personally, I'd love to see those damn tractor trailers off the road when there are chain restrictions- they were the lone reason last Friday for the backup on Vail Pass, since they couldn't get up the hill even WITH chains.
Harry , if those tractor trailers of off the road, when chain law is posted, how are you or anyone else going to buy anything you need from a store.
Do you think stuff just appears in the store? Trucks bring us everything
Don't always blame the truckers. What about the 4 wheelers who cut off the big rigs thus causing an aciedent.
I see plenty of 4 wheelers, both 4/all wheel drive, and non 4wheel drives, who have trouble going up snow covered passes, then stop in the middle of the road , cause they can't move forward anymore.
I can see it now.
Store Manager, Sorry Mr. Dunn , but my hands are tied. You see some one got a law passed that bans all 18 wheelers from the roads when there are chain laws are posted. And since it's been snowing so hard and the DOT can't keep the roads bare, they had to put up the chain law.

Im sorry that the Coors plant had to shut down, cause the trucks that bring in the things they need to bottle beer, are forced to shut down. And i'm sory that your car is almost out of gas, cause thet truck that brings gas to you gas station, is still parked at it's office due to the chain law.
post #19 of 56
I hope they do nothing. It doesn't make sense to widen a road just for two days a week of seasonal traffic. And as others have said, if the road widens more will come and the road will again be crowded. Mass transit won't work because of gear and summer destinations.

As Vinn said, come during the week. If you can't because of a job, change jobs. If you can't change jobs then save up, buy a condo, come Friday night and leave Monday morning.

Steve
post #20 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Dunn
How about renting a condo up in Frisco or Silverthorne? I did it last year and didn't wait once in traffic. I know this isn't possible for everyone, but it may be worth the extra $200/month that it costs to do.

Harry,

Please send me a private message and tell me where you are renting a condo for $200 a month anywhere in Summit County! Are you sure you did not mean $200 a day?
post #21 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by matt7180
Harry,

Please send me a private message and tell me where you are renting a condo for $200 a month anywhere in Summit County! Are you sure you did not mean $200 a day?
He didn't say $200/month. He said for an EXTRA $200/month...
post #22 of 56
Easy: I leave Boulder at 5:45am and I'm at Copper by 7:30. I do this pretty much every day I go up (including today and tomorrow). On a weekday, coming home is no big deal. On a weekend, eat dinner and hang out, head home between 7 and 8pm.

If you insist on driving when everyone else is, you'll be driving when everyone else is.
post #23 of 56
The key is to go down the hill in the morning and up the hill in the afternoon, but I suppose this doesn't work if you want to live in Denver and ski in the mountains... We often make weekend trips to Denver and find the traffic going the other way entertaining. If they solved the traffic issues we couldn't count cars with out of state tags in the ditch, on their sides and on their tops!! I think the last trip down the hill we counted 9, and it was pretty good weather.
post #24 of 56
It's not very entertaining when one of those idiots takes you out on his way to the ditch or on his roof.

I always plan our trips middle of the week to the middle of the next week like this one comming in a few weeks.

Usually on a Thursday drive from the airport it's dead and always plan the drive down on a monday or tuesday night with little traffic at all. Most of the skiing is mid week and empty.
post #25 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by matt7180
Harry,

Please send me a private message and tell me where you are renting a condo for $200 a month anywhere in Summit County! Are you sure you did not mean $200 a day?
No, I mean $200 a month... for yourself. This is assuming that you have friends who are interested in the same thing (skiing) and can find 4-5 others who will go in with you. You can easily find a 2 bedroom place for $1000 for the ski season.
post #26 of 56

Trains

I usually go during the week and have found that leaving early is the key. I usually see no traffic or light traffic the entire trip. I try and be out the door around 5-5:30 am. This means I am in the foothills around 6 am. For every minute that I wait past 6 am the traffic grows exponentially. The return trip is where I usually get traffic. I would like to see a train that hits the resorts. They could run a line from the airport. This is the only solution that makes sense to me. The sad thing is that there does not seem to be enough money to do anything like a train. There has been talk of toll roads as well. A toll at the tunnel may be in the future.
post #27 of 56
I used to live on Floyd hill and I knew all the frontage road alternatives. That helped, but the real solution would be some big tunnels....Boulder to Winter Park, under Berthod Pass etc. Heck, they already have train and aqueduct tunnels.
post #28 of 56
I still think widening it to twelve lanes would work. That is what it would take, and they won't widen it that much anyway. Caught on the news last night that CDOT couldn't possibly start any sort of project (widening, mono rail whatever) to alleviate traffic for ten years. They just finished one study, have another one going that will be done in three years, then another, then bidding.... Geez. So the short term solution is to add another 1,000 spaces to the park and ride lots. Yep that outta help.
post #29 of 56
I usually drive up on Friday nights and don't come back
until after 7 on Sunday nights. You can avoid the traffic
if you are willing to hang around for dinner.

I would like to see a high speed train from DIA to the resorts
with stops in downtown Denver and a few others in between.
In order for this to work, there would have to be convenient
and frequent transportation from the drop off points to the
resorts. The price of the train would have to be economical
enough that it would be a substantial savings over driving
a car.

I would rather sit on a train and read a book or relax than
drive up 70 in all kinds of weather. I imagine many tourists
would as well, especially people who are not comfortable
driving in nasty weather.

Please note: This is my suggestion for the ideal situation.
I understand there are many factors that may or may
not make this a viable solution.

There is a club in Breck - www.schussbaumer.org where you
can be a member for about $500 per year. It is not fancy
and there are some interesting people, but it is a place to sleep,
shower and hang out and miss the traffic.
post #30 of 56
Boy, you guy's have great snow and you still find something to complain about. You should move back here with us in New England.

I hope you guy's realize how good you have it.

Ok now that that's been said, I can see the problem, I have done that I-70 drive, but not in the traffic you have now. If you can get all the "friends of the earth do gooders" out of the way, I'm sure the state would have no problem making I-70 5 lanes wide. All it takes is money.

At least your not alone on your drive, just remember there is most likely another EPIC member in that traffic somewhere.

Enjoy your snow, wish we had some of that...
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