DENVER (CBS4)– The eastbound lane of the Interstate 70 Mountain Express Lane will open on Saturday and the toll will be waived during the test phase.

Travelers will be able to try the lanes for free and learn how to use them while tolls are waived.

The I-70 Express Lane operates for 13 miles between the twin Veterans Memorial Tunnels near Idaho Springs and the Empire exit. The lane allows eastbound traffic to use a newly built “shoulder lane” during peak travel periods.

“Drivers can use this testing period as an opportunity to try the new Express Lane and experience the new configuration of the highway, without paying a toll,” said CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt in a statement. “The Express Lane will bring much needed capacity during peak travel times to this critical mountain corridor that connects our Front Range residents and tourists to our world-class recreational opportunities.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The toll on the 13-mile stretch will vary based on how many cars are slowing down traffic, starting at $3 and increasing all the way to $30.

Some other states have flexible-toll express lanes, but Colorado’s toll idea is unusual because it would apply mostly to winter recreational travelers, not workday commuters. The ski lane would be open only 73 days a year — weekends and Monday holidays.

When not in use the lane is used as a shoulder.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Additional Information from CDOT:

What you need to know about the I-70 Mountain Express Lane:

  • There are two entrances and exits:
    • Enter at Empire Junction or before the Veterans Memorial Twin Tunnels.
    • Express Lane users who want to exit at Idaho Springs may use the signed Express Lane exit for Idaho Springs, prior to Exit 239.
    • Travelers exiting I-70 eastbound to US 6 at Floyd Hill (Exit 244) can enter US 6 without a charge.
  • Do not cross the solid white line; enter and exit at designated areas only.
  • No free HOV, motorcycles or trailers or trucks over 25 feet.
  • Travelers will be charged the toll price posted when they entered the Express Lane. If the price should increase or decrease while they are in the lane, drivers will pay the price posted upon entry. The toll price is the same regardless of toll entrance point, Empire or before the Veterans Memorial Tunnels.
  • The use of the lane will be impacted by weather or incidents.
    • Should an incident occur and traffic is detoured onto or off the Express Lane, no toll will be charged.
  • The Express Lane is open weekends and holidays. When not in use, it is a shoulder.
  • Get a Pass! ExpressToll saves money each time.
    • The same ExpressToll passes (stickers or switchable HOV transponders) that are used on US 36, E-470, I-25 and Northwest Parkway will work on the I-70 Mountain Express Lane.

Get I-70 Mountain Express Lane updates:

  • Sign up for text or email alerts for when the I-70 Mountain Express Lane is open or closed. Click here and select “I-70 Clear Creek/Mountain Express Lane.”
  • Visit Cotrip.org to learn current I-70 Mountain Express Lane toll prices.
  • Listen to CDOT Mountain Radio on Cotrip.org.
  • Visit codot.gov for more information on Express Lanes.

Although opening the Express Lane marks a major milestone in the Peak Period Shoulder Lane Project, construction work will continue into 2016 with periodic lane and ramp closures.

 

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