Photo Credit: onthesnow.com
Does this sound like a viable way to deal with I-70 Colorado ski traffic, or the worst idea you could ever possibly think of? Regardless, it’s happening as The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has decided to implement a new “pace car system” with law enforcement officials on eastbound I-70 this ski season. CDOT has been studying a way to lessen ski traffic during winters for more than 15 years and this is a major step in what they feel is the right direction.
If you live in Colorado, specifically in the Denver, Vail, or Summit Country regions you know exactly why this program is coming to fruition. Just about every weekend in the winter traffic through the mountains via I-70 is a complete and utter junk show, although often times the junk show is better characterized as a complete stand-still, or an accident waiting-to-happen.
Local quantitative statistics point to traffic increasing at a rate of 2-3% on average each year. While many will chastise this plan for not allowing them to head home on a Sunday from Vail to Denver weaving in-and-out of traffic like a madman, the hope is this new system will bring about safer traveling conditions for all. A major problem on I-70 is located in the variable speeds different vehicles often travel during this time of year, usually dependent on current weather conditions, as well as the unfortunate accidents that many times come as a result of too many cars on the road at once, and stormy weather.
The new “pace car system” will commence with the start of the new year this January 2012 and will run through March. What users can expect is on Sunday afternoons, from Silverthorne to Empire Junction, a police car that’s flashing lights will plan to get in front of traffic about every 10 minutes and try to set a speed in hopes that other vehicles will follow its lead.
The pacing car system is not a new idea. It’s been used in other states for years when a huge sporting event, concert, or major construction was taking place. Based on tests conducted this past summer and fall, and coupled with other states using the system for reasons mentioned above, CDOT feels this program will dramatically help the often times “unsafe” driving conditions usually found on I-70 during winter weekends. According to local reports, many residents and ski resort officials are happy about the new program.