Heavy I-70 traffic

Motorists heading to Denver on those busy Sunday afternoons when ski or camping traffic slows Interstate 70 to a crawl may soon have a speedier solution — for a price.

The Colorado Department of Transportation plans to add a toll lane for eastbound traffic that would stretch from the Twin Tunnels near Idaho Springs east to U.S. Highway 40 at Empire Junction, The Denver Post reported.

The toll lane would be constructed within the current right-of-way of the interstate, and it would be used only during peak traffic times, a CDOT spokeswoman said.

Use of the toll lane would be entirely optional. Motorists who don’t want to pay the toll can remain in the main portion of the highway.

The Highway Department has long struggled to come up with acceptable and cost-effective ways to alleviate the bottlenecks that occur on I-70, particularly on busy ski weekends and heavily traveled weekends in the summer. Widening the Twin Tunnels east of Idaho Springs, a project that began last spring, is part of that effort.

It is perfectly rational to create a toll lane for those who want to travel faster, thereby enlisting their assistance in paying for the expansion.

Similar high-speed toll lanes exist in many large metro areas. The tolls are essentially user fees, charging only those who choose to drive on the extra lanes.

Several years ago, one of the ideas explored by the Highway Department was to have toll lanes running all the way from Denver to Summit County, and perhaps even to Vail. That notion didn’t sit well with many people, who didn’t want a mandatory toll to use an interstate highway.

We hope the optional toll lane near the Twin Tunnels, which is expected to open in 2015, proves successful and can be expanded to other parts of I-70.


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