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Persistent Colorado I-70 Congestion Prompts 'Wave Escort' Techniques

I-70 traffic monitoring

Looking for ways to unclog skier traffic on I-70 to some of the state’s top ski resorts, Colorado Department of Transportation officials have instituted the so-called “wave escort” strategy during bad weather on weekends.


A slippery slope up eastbound I-70 in early February forced many motorists to wait some four hours before making it to the Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnel. Dozens of vehicles couldn’t make it up the grade, blocking traffic up the busy thoroughfare.


Consequently, Colorado State Patrol troopers stepped in on the next wintry day and escorted cohorts of about 1,000 vehicles through the tunnel. Motorists were halted in either Frisco or Silverthorne and had to wait about 30 minutes before getting an escort over the pass, CDOT officials said.


“Should weather conditions require it, CDOT will implement wave escorts further down the mountain at Silverthorne to ensure that eastbound traffic can move steadily up the hill without having to stop and encounter possible traction issues,” CDOT said on it Website. “Implemented for the first time (Feb. 16), wave escorts kept traffic rolling, resulting in fewer delays on a heavily congested weekend in inclement weather.”


The wave escort is the second on-the-road strategy employed by highway officials who have been grappling in increased winter weekend traffic on the interstate from a number of years. The first, called the “rolling speed harmonization,” had a trooper leading vehicles down the interstate at 55 mph -- once traffic reached a certain level of congestion.


CDOT also is metering traffic through the tunnel to ensure that emergency personnel and vehicles can respond to any problems in or around the dual tunnels.


A number of restaurants and bars in Summit County have responded to the congestion by offering deals to keep folks off I-70 until the traffic eases. Click here to see them.


Photo: Motorists await metering through Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnel (CDOT/Facebook)


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