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CDOT Says I-70 Pace Car Idea Seems To Be Working

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One of the pace cars on Interstate 70 on Aug. 13, 2011. (credit: CBS)

One of the pace cars on Interstate 70 on Aug. 13, 2011. (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – It’s a common sight on Sundays during the ski season — backups on eastbound Interstate 70 that seem to last forever. Now the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado State Patrol are trying a new strategy to keep the traffic moving.

On Sunday they used pace cars to slow down traffic along a 27-mile stretch of the highway from Silverthorne through the Eisenhower Tunnel to Empire. It was the second time the idea has been tested. By slowing down cars traffic could actually move faster.

“Well, we’re trying to reduce accidents, increase safety, and also maximize the capacity of the corridor,” Bob Wilson with CDOT said.

The idea is to have a trooper set the pace for all the cars following behind. It prevents drivers from going at various speeds which often times causes accidents and traffic backups.

“By keeping everybody at a fairly regular speed, all basically at the same speed, it enhances the traffic movement. It’s basically going a bit slower to make vehicles go faster, if you will,” Wilson said.

The rolling speed test is one option to keep traffic moving along I-70. The other option is tunnel metering, which CDOT and police plan to use this upcoming ski season. CDOT and police hope the speed test will limit the amount of metering they have to do.

“Metering is where we stop traffic from entering the tunnel and people have to wait. And this is something that people dislike even more,” Wilson said.

Though it was supposed to slow traffic, troopers moved at a pretty steady pace. Drivers CBS4 spoke with didn’t seem to mind.

“I didn’t even notice there was any congestion,” driver Brandi Doocy said.

“My conclusion was that it was fantastic. I didn’t feel like people were going to fast, too slow, which causes weaving,” driver Brittany Lincoln said.

It was the second speed test so far this year and so far it’s working. One more rolling speed test is set for December at the height of ski season.

The last time CDOT tried out pace cars took place on a Saturday in August when traffic counts were much lower.

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