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

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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) – 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.

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