Test run begins on I-70 toll lane

Posted at 11:09 PM, Dec 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-14 01:09:16-05

Traffic on I-70 in the mountains can test every last nerve.  But with CDOT’s newly opened toll lane that runs east from Empire through Idaho Springs, those headaches may go away.

Vicki Babb frequents the mountains in the winter time and says traffic has gotten so bad, she has nearly stopped making the trip.

“It’s very heavy, this time of day on a Sunday or Saturday so it kind of makes it hard to go up there just because of the traffic,” said Babb.

CDOT says the I-70 toll lane is in its free testing phase right now so drivers can use it for free. CDOT hasn’t determined when they’ll start charging drivers.

And the toll lane appears to be working well on Sunday, its first day.  People Denver7 spoke with say traffic is better than a typical Sunday evening.

While many agree the drive wasn’t bad, hardly anyone can agree on what their time is worth.

CDOT says the lane, when open, is intended to save drivers about 30 minutes from Empire through Idaho Springs.

“I think the price is a little high because the sign I saw was 12 dollars so I think that’s a little high but I guess if it’s too low then everybody would drive in it,” said Babb.

The toll lane was expected to open Saturday but that was postponed due to a winter storm.

MORE | I-70 Express Lane opening delayed by weather

Fees will eventually range from $3 to $30, depending on traffic, once the testing period is over. 

When tolls begin, the base rate for ExpressToll account and pass holders is $3 and with typical traffic volumes, could range between $8 and $10. At high traffic volumes, the afternoon rate is expected to range between $10 and $15, or higher, depending upon trip reliability and traffic volume.

The express lane is expected to be open more than 70 days a year during peak travel periods, mostly on weekends and holidays.