Whether you're a weekend warrior living in Denver, or a traveling snow lover flying into Denver's International Airport, it's likely that at some point this winter you will find yourself on Interstate 70. As the gateway to Colorado skiing and one of the busiest highways in ski country, I-70 is notorious for its soul-crushing traffic, beautiful Colorado views, and now, its soon-to-open toll lane. We've rounded up 10 things you need to know about one of the nation's most expensive toll roads.
1. The new toll lane is set to open December 12: You can expect construction on the corridor until the project is complete.
2. The toll lane only runs eastbound: Hoping that the new toll lane would help you get to the mountains faster? Sorry! The toll lane is only on the eastbound side of I-70, but it should help you get home after a day of skiing.
3. The lane only goes for 13 miles: The new express lane runs for 13 miles from the Empire exit to the Veterans Memorial tunnels, just past Idaho Springs. Stuck in traffic near the Eisenhower Tunnel? There's no toll lane at or near the tunnel.
4. It won't run all the time: The lane will only be open during peak travel times. The I-70 express lane was carved out of the inside shoulder of the highway and isn't considered a proper lane for year-round use. Federal regulations will only allow the lane to be operational 72 days per year.
5. The prices will change: Instead of having a set price, the toll lane pricing will adjust based on congestion. Tolls will vary from $3-$40. At the maximum suggest toll rate, motorists would be paying $2.31 per mile, making it a higher rate than any other toll road in the United States. The lane will never be free.
6. You should be able to drive 40-45 mph: The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) hopes that by raising the rates when traffic is at its worst, the toll lane should be able to maintain a speed of 40-45 mph. CDOT spokeswoman Any Ford told the Denver Post that "The guarantee of this lane is that we will always have one lane with reliable travel speeds."
7. The lane will not be cheaper for HOVs: Hoping you can pay a bit less because your car is packed with powder lovers? Not so fast. Unlike other toll lanes in Colorado, the I-70 mountain corridor toll lane will not give credit for high-occupancy vehicles.
8. You should get an ExpressToll transponder: Unless you want to pay higher prices, you should open an ExpressToll account. Once you have an account you will receive a transponder to put in your vehicle. Cars in the express lane that don't have a transponder will pay a higher toll to cover the higher cost of processing a license-plate toll.
9. Semi-trucks will not be allowed in the toll lane: Two-axle vehicles, including motorcycles, are allowed to drive in the toll lane. Vehicles with more than two axles, or longer than 25 feet, as well as trailers and buses will not be permitted at any point.
10. On average, you should save about 30 minutes: CDOT believes that when it's running, the new I-70 toll lane should save travelers about 30 minutes. It will also keep you from hating your life.
There you have it, Colorado skiers. So get those transponders and pray that you never experience traffic like this on I-70 again.
· How Much Should CDOT Charge for Speedy Eastbound I-70 Travel? [Curbed Ski]
· Colorado Officials Say I-70 Traffic Was Better This Past Winter [Curbed Ski]
· I-70 Traffic Is So Bad You Can Ski Faster Than You Can Drive [Curbed Ski]