I-70 Pace Car Program Halted Because Of Volume Of Vehicles

DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado Department of Transportation says this weekend has historically been one of the heaviest traffic weekends of the winter season.

There was more traffic along the Interstate 70 corridor because of the Winter X Games in Aspen. Volumes became so heavy CDOT couldn’t keep it moving with its new pacing program. It pulled the plug just before 3 p.m.

CDOT has been using pace cars or law enforcement officers to keep traffic moving slowly, but steadily, from the Eisenhower Tunnel to Floyd Hill. The harmonization program has been in place every Sunday since Thanksgiving.

CDOT can now say the program is shaving as much as an hour off of the drive from the tunnel back to the Denver metro area.

A steady pace down the I-70 corridor saves more time than making the way through stop-and-go traffic. The time spent at a standstill takes away from the few times drivers might get up to 70 miles per hour.

“I tell people you have to slow down to go faster, and that’s really hard to think about. But it’s the same concept if you think about pouring rice through a funnel. If you dump a bunch of rice in, it clogs, you get a few that come through. But if you go slow and easy, you get a heck of a lot more through in a faster period of time,” Stacey Stegman with CDOT said.

The law enforcement officers who pace traffic are paid overtime by CDOT. CDOT says the program is not as effective from Silverthorne to the Eisenhower Tunnel.

Having to stop traffic to let hazardous materials trucks through the tunnel, accidents, and too much volume can ruin the pace.

  • Gene Little

    So much for State Patrol Pace Cars? Traffic left standing for 42 minutes. Very discouraging for visitors to our Great Ski State as well as Colorado Residents. This is our last trip to the mountains on weekends this winter.

    Traffic Congestion on I-70 @ 2 P.M. Sunday 1-29-2012

  • Brian

    The pace was at best only a crawl for FOUR hours! Left Frisco at 2:30. Hit heavy traffic immediately and stop and go by Silverthorne exit. It took one and a half hours to get to the tunnel from Silverthorne ! Four hours to get to Lakewood arriving at 6:30. That’s an average of about 17.5 mph.

  • Karen

    Left Frisco at 5:00 just got home to Lakewood 5 minutes ago (8:45). Just like Brian, it took me one and a half hours to get from Silverthorne to the tunnel! At one point we where at a complete standstill for over 5 minutes. This is what I call an EPIC fail!!!

  • Powder

    The State Patrol could check snow tires at Genesse. Back in the 70’s on snow days, vehicles were turned around that did not have snow tires when snowing.
    The cheap skiers and riders that do not buy snow tires cause the slowdowns.
    Start checking again and turn back drivers without snow tires on snow days in both directions. All seasons do not cut it on snow days and slow down traffic quite a bit.

    • Stinky

      Snow tire requirement would make a LOT of sense, Powder. I can’t think of a single drawback to your idea.

  • Ryan

    Try having a second route back home. There are more ways than just I-70 to return back to the Front Range. Made it back to Fort Collins via Hwy. 9 to Kremmling. Hwy. 40 to Rabbit Ears Pass and Hwy. 14 to Fort Collins. Trip took 3.5 hours. Also an incredibly scenic drive.

  • mark r

    Left Silverthorne at 2:30, arrived Dinosaur lots at 5:50. Metering at the tunnels failed, despite some valiant attempts at orchestrating the group. The harmonization fell on deaf ears and as the crowd surged menacingly. The conductor abandoned his podium, as the encore performance was not eagerly anticipated by the spectators…

  • Melanie

    We left Copper Mountain at 12:40pm and arrived back at Genesse 2:25 pm. The pace car kept us at 32-33 mph. The contention that they shave an hour off the trip is completely erroneous. We have been doing this trip for years. If we are out of the parking lot by 12:30 or so, we could easily make the trip in under an hour. Since the pacing and metering, the time has doubled. It is ridiculous.

  • Tim R.

    We left Frisco a 2:00 to beat traffic. We have used this tactic for years to keep the drive to Littleton at 1 ½ hour. Today it was 2 additional hours – on a completely dry day. We did not see one accident. A number of people overheated on the Eisenhower approach because they were forced to drive so slowly (1 hour from Silverthorne to tunnel). This is the worst commute we have ever had on a day without a snow storm. CDOT trying to spin this program as a success today is a huge stretch.

  • Greg

    Left copper @ 2:15. Took 2 hours to get from Copper just to the tunnel; at a stand still for 20-25 minutes 2 or 3 times before reaching the tunnel. Then took another hour to get to Idaho Springs and finally another hour to get to Aurora racking our total travel time to 4 hours for what would normally take an hour and 45 min. Thanks CDOT

  • Brian

    Not for nothing, but it appears to me just one more step toward socialism.

  • Larry

    It would help traffic a lot, if 1, they kept trucks out of the left lane, and 2, posted signs for slower movers to stay right. I have found that trucks and slow movers that cut over into the left lane cause major slow downs , and only accidents cause more…

  • thomas

    Never, ever ever have I seen traffic on I70 that bad. Worse than Holiday weekends. We left Breck at 2 and didn’t get have to Denver until 6. On the hill up to the tunnel we had to wait for 30 min 2 separate times and creeped at 1mph the rest of the time. When they finally let us through, the traffic was stop and go until Idaho Springs. We saw maybe 25+ cars that had overheated and broken down because they were waiting on a steep hill to be paced.

    The pacing is a bad idea. Would way rather see unmarked police cars going after the super aggressive drivers or holding all the semi trucks during extra heavy traffic.

  • Dean

    Road rage sponsored by CDOT.

  • racc

    what idiot thought up that program?

  • Karl

    I have been doing the drive from Vail to Denver for 12 years now and this year has by far been the worst. On average 30-45min longer. They should use all those off-duty officers to ticket drivers that hang out in the left lane and don’t let others pass.

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