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New Toll Lane for Part of I-70 Coming Soon — But Will It Be Worth $30 a Pop?


Traffic nightmares on Interstate 70 approaching Denver from the east have been a terrible part of our lives for ages — and they've been getting worse.

Now, a new Peak Period Shoulder Lane — shorthanded as PPSL — is expected to be completed along a thirteen-mile stretch from Floyd Hill to Empire by year's end.

However, it won't be cheap. Indeed, during the worst times, the cost could be as high as $30 a trip.

That revelation comes courtesy of the Vail Daily, which notes that the PPSL will mark the first expansion of I-70 since it was finished way back in 1979.


Something clearly needs to be done, as I know from personal experience.

My family has a cabin on Colorado's Grand Mesa, but our weekend getaways have been getting shorter and shorter due to the backups. Earlier this summer, we left the Mesa at 8 a.m. on a Sunday in the hope that we'd get through the Eisenhower Tunnel and beyond Idaho Springs before things clogged up. But no: We were saddled with a two-hour-plus delay. So, on Labor Day, we departed at 6 a.m., and on that occasion, the slow-down along the approach to Denver was comparatively minor — but it also meant we didn't get to enjoy additional time on the Western Slope.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has long promised to do something to improve this ridiculous scenario, whose impact is severe during ski season as well — and the PPSL is its latest concept. The idea is to maintain a speed of forty miles per hour

A page devoted to the project features a video first created back in 2013 — see it below — as well as a trio of before-and-after-style photos.


The first image shows I-70 today....


...while the second offers a look at the express lane when closed....


...and the third presents the PPSL when open.


Also included is a graphic showing the PPSL route:


The PPSL will be open on weekends, holidays and other dates designated as peak periods — and the fees will fluctuate, too.

CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford tells the Daily that during less busy times, the cost for using the toll lane could be as low as $3. But during the heaviest traffic, it could go up to as much as $30 a ride, with the high cost serving as what developers hope will be enough of a disincentive for less well-heeled commuters to keep the express lane flowing.

Ford adds that she expects the maximum amount to be imposed only rarely — but if forking over this sum cuts hours off the drive, plenty of people may well be willing to pay it.

That's how bad things have gotten along I-70.

No firm date for the completion of the PPSL has been announced, but CDOT expects it to be ready for use before 2015 turns into 2016.

Look below to see the aforementioned video about the lane.



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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts