Posted in Blog on November 25, 2015
Residents probably won’t be too surprised to learn that Colorado’s Interstate 70 was recently rated by New York publishing company Thrillist as one of the worst in the entire United States. Thrillist reviewed data from the Federal Highway Administration to rank freeways using three main factors: the roughness of the road; how long drivers wait in traffic; and the odds of being in a fatal traffic accident.
In the list of the top 12 worst freeways, I-70 came in at number five and was the state’s only freeway to make the list. Thrillist noted that the worst aspect of I-70 is the inability of drivers to plan ahead because the winter traffic is too unpredictable; accidents on this stretch are also common. Aspen Public Radio reported that a three-car crash on I-70 near New Castle took the life of a female passenger and injured four others, one of whom was a 12-year-old girl. Officers at the scene noted standing water on the road at the time of the accident, which is also believed to be a factor in another fatal I-70 crash that killed a 44-year-old wife and mother when her husband lost control of the family’s SUV.
Given I-70’s accident statistics and notorious traffic jams, the Colorado Department of Transportation is mounting a campaign that aims to improve traffic on the I-70 stretches through the mountains this winter by tackling tires. Drivers who are in accidents without the proper tires on their cars will face hundreds of dollars in fines under the state’s “Traction Law.” Also known as a “Code 15,” when this law is in effect, drivers must have tires that carry a mud/snow designation, snow tires or four-wheel drive. All tires must have a tread of at least one-eighth of an inch.
Officials from CDOT say the state is working to improve congestion on I-70, with the long-anticipated Mountain Corridor Express Lane scheduled to open on December 12 to help ease traffic jams on the freeway during peak driving times. However, funding is an issue, and 1-70 is also in need of repair and improvement. Currently, the state is pushing to have the I-70 stretch between Salt Lake City and Denver designated as a “Corridor of High Priority,” which would make it eligible for federal funding to cover improvement and maintenance.
Drivers on this freeway are urged to proceed with caution and expect delays when the weather is poor and/or the volume of traffic is high. You can’t always anticipate what other drivers will do, but a little defensive driving can certainly help, especially on freeways like 1-70.