I-70 myth-busting glazes over winter driving nightmares

Under the headline “Myth: Interstate 70 traffic jams worst during ski season,” the Denver Post Tuesday ran an AP story in which the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) engages in a little bit of myth busting about the four-lane parking lot between Denver and the mountains.

According to the story, CDOT “says the ski jams are something of a myth and that the highway is actually more congested in summer.” July and August are the busiest months, with nearly 40,000 vehicles a day passing through the Eisenhower Tunnel both months. March, January and February are the next busiest months.

So the point is, Front Range day skiers need to quit whining about winter weekend traffic jams on I-70. But the thing about summer is it doesn’t typically include a foot of snow, howling winds and long-haul truckers from Texas with no tire chains going sideways on Vail Pass.

Those are the conditions at 10,000-plus feet of elevation that can turn a two-hour scenic drive through the mountains into a grueling six-hour odyssey. Still, is it bad enough to warrant a $22 billion high-speed rail system crisscrossing the state, as some train backers propose?

Probably not in any of our lifetimes … unless Denver lands the 2022 Winter Olympics, which some observers say may be the only way the state ever gets high-speed mountain rail.

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About the Author

David O. Williams

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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