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Driving You Crazy: Where is the legal exit from the new I-70 express lanes to access Peña Boulevard?

Do you have to cross the double white lines which is not supposed to be done?
Express lane exit
Posted at 5:33 AM, Jan 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-10 09:16:46-05

Bruce from Littleton writes, “What’s driving you crazy? The new Central 70 Project eastbound express lanes east of I-225, there is no (obvious to me at least) current place to legally ‘exit’ the express lanes to access the Pena Boulevard exit to the airport. You have to cross the double white lines which is not supposed to be done. Is this an oversight, poor design/planning or lack of signage? I did note on the westbound side they have signage, at least in one place, that indicates where you should leave the express lanes in order to take which upcoming exits.”

You are right Bruce, there isn’t a legal exit from the express lane right near I-225, Chambers or Peña Blvd. You would have to cross over the double white lines if you are in that area. The legal exit is farther back at Peoria.

The new I-70 express lanes were designed to move traffic quickly between Peña Blvd and I-25 with just a few entry and exit points. The traffic engineers who designed the roadway made sure to pay particular attention to that part of the plan, keeping in mind the drivers who would use the express lane and then head to any of the exit ramps. As part of the design process, engineers working on Central 70 needed to factor in the “weave distance” for a vehicle coming into or out of the express lane. That weave distance is defined as the time and distance it takes for a driver to merge several lanes to the right to get to any of the interstate exit ramps.

I was told by Central 70 engineers that the weave distance required to safely cross the entire width of I-70 from the managed lane to the Peña Blvd exit required a "Local Exit" to be placed at Peoria street. Project engineers used extensive traffic modeling to show how this stretch of I-70 would operate before the physical changes were made to the interstate.

“If drivers take the ‘Local Exit’ sign at Peoria,” the engineer said, “this stretch operates as intended. The impact of drivers illegally crossing the double white line to cross all the I-70 lanes and exit at Peña will not be desirable and will create a potential safety problem.”

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I witnessed that safety problem first-hand from the left lane on eastbound I-70 as an express lane driver cut over the double white lines right in front of me and proceeded to dart across three more lanes to get to the exit for Peña Blvd. In the process, the driver nearly ran into the back of another driver who was moving slowly in the exit lane to Peña.

I asked project engineers if their signage over the express lane could be clearer for airport bound drivers. They tell me they know they already have a large number of signs installed throughout the Central 70 corridor and admit the combination of all of them can be overwhelming to drivers. But they tell me that if they determine adding additional signage to make drivers aware they need to exit the express lane at Peoria to get to Peña Blvd and to the airport, they will, but want to make sure that it serves its intended purpose and is effective.

Driving You Crazy: Where is the legal exit from the new I-70 express lanes to access Peña Boulevard?

“CDOT will monitor the performance of this stretch of highway and if additional signage is warranted it will be incorporated but crossing the double white lines is illegal and is never the best option,” says the engineer. “The Tower Road exit is an alternative that would allow a driver to get off of I-70 safely and still turn north to make it to Peña Blvd.”

CDOT tells me they have plans of a future option that will eliminate the express lane weave to Peña Blvd. The long-term plans show that a direct connection ramp from the eastbound I-70 Express Lane to Peña Blvd would be safer and quicker, however, there is currently no timeline nor funds appropriated for that improvement.

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 25 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Spotify or Podbean.