High gas prices detour mountain travelers over holiday weekend

High gas prices and weather might have deterred travelers going to the mountains over Memorial Day weekend since I-70 traffic was down – actually, way down from previous years.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) records the number of vehicles going through Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70, especially during holidays such as Memorial Day weekend, when traffic count spikes.

"Memorial Day weekend is not historically as busy in the mountains as July 4th or President’s Day in February," noted Bob Wilson, a spokesperson for CDOT. "However, we had a substantial drop in traffic count westbound this year probably because we had high gas prices, combined with snow in the mountains, and kids still in school."

Westbound traffic at the Eisenhower Tunnel over the four-day Memorial Day weekend (Friday through Monday) dropped by 6.8 percent fro 2007 to 65,428 vehicles. "We haven’t seen those figures since 2000," Wilson said. Last year, 69,875 vehicles traveled west through the tunnel, a record number up from 66,921 in 2006.

Counting both westbound and eastbound traffic at the tunnel, Memorial Day numbers dropped by over 10,000 vehicles from last year — 126,937 in 2008 compared to 136,219 vehicles in 2007.

Wilson said there were no major I-70 traffic problems that could have discouraged travelers. "We had a temporary detour in Fruita because of flooding on westbound I-70, but lanes were reopened later on Friday." He said the bike path in Glenwood Canyon will remain closed because of high water. "We might reopen sections of the bike path, but for now, it may be mid-June before we feel it is safe enough to open the entire bike path."

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