I-70 toll lane to open for 2015 winter season

If you haven’t noticed already, after two summers of construction we have a new, third lane available on I-70 eastbound from Empire to Floyd Hill.

Photo of early toll lane proposal for I-70 eastbound from CDOT
Photo of early toll lane proposal for I-70 eastbound from CDOT

Starting in late 2015, just in time for the winter season to get into full swing, any vehicles using the new lane (with an ExpressToll account and pass) will have to pay a variable toll. No, there will not be any HOV or carpool option. Yes, motorcyclists can travel for free with an ExpressToll pass. And no, trucks probably will not be in this third lane as they’ll get stuck with a very high surcharge.

Ariel shot of Empire junction from GOI70

As mentioned, the toll will be variable depending on the amount of vehicles on the road and using the toll lane. According to CDOT, the lanes will only be successful if they can provide a reliable travel time through the corridor so it has to be attractive to “customers” but not so much it becomes congested. CDOT expects to open the lane as a toll road only 72 days out of the year, targeted at busy ski season and summer holiday weekends. Otherwise, the lane will function as a shoulder for safety and snowplowing purposes. Since the toll is only to be applied during peak travel periods, and the aim is to maintain speeds of 45 MPH, prices may range anywhere from $3 to $30 for the 13 mile stretch.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) have invited the public to hear more about the I-70 Mountain Express Lane and the proposed toll rates for the corridor, as well as how to use the lane when it opens. An in-person public meeting will be held Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at the Elk Lodge in Idaho Springs.

For more information about the I-70 Mountain Corridor Express Lane visit CDOT’s website and read the Colorado HPTE memo.


When you’re traveling to and from the mountains, be sure to GOI70 for traffic forecasts and local deals to tide you over in case you plan to spend some extra time in the mountains.