The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced on Monday that its three-pronged plan to reduce congestion on Interstate 70 worked out well, as Cathy Proctor writes for the Denver Business Journal. As the department said in a statement, the improvements, which CDOT embarked on this past winter, achieved the following:
- Reduced injury and fatal crashes by 35 percent, and weather related crashes by 46 percent
- Reduced unplanned closure time by 16 percent
- Reduced number of hours of eastbound delay longer than 75 minutes by 26 percent
CDOT Traffic Congestion Plan
CDOT focused on three areas to reduce the congestion that costs Colorado $1 billion per year: infrastructure, operations, and public education. In infrastructure, the department finished widening the east- and west-bound Twin Tunnels, which it notes were the first improvements made along the corridor in 40 years. In operations, it invested $8 million to add snow plow drivers, implement snowplow “escorts” on the approach to the Eisenhower Tunnel, and to meter traffic getting on to I-70 at key locations, CDOT writes.
And in the area of public education, the department launched an extensive campaign, “Change Your Peak Drive” (coordinated with the I-70 Coalition and ski resorts) to communicate to the public how important it is to have good tires, to drive safely around snow plows, to travel during off-peak times, and to get information from such CDOT resources as Mountain Travel Radio and carpooling. The department introduced Mountain Travel Radio in January to provide real-time information about road and traffic conditions on I-70 between Denver and Vail, as CDOT wrote in a press release.
The radio station can be tuned into through CoTrip.org or the CDOT Mobile app (free for Androids and iPhones) by clicking the “Listen Now” button. It airs every Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., and from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., coinciding with peak winter travel times. As of February, Mountain Travel Radio was reaching 40% of mountain travelers, CDOT wrote.
Strategies Making a Difference
Ryan Rice, CDOT’s Director of Transportation Systems Management and Operation, said the department’s strategies have been making a difference. He said in a statement:
By improving our operations and educating the public on how they can stay safe during their drive, we can save lives AND reduce the frustrations travelers experience during a trip in the mountains.
Once the Change Your Peak Drive campaign ended for the season, the National Research Center found the following in a survey it conducted:
- 76% of I-70 travelers polled checked their tire treads;
- 46% of I-70 travelers bought new tires;
- 62% of I-70 travelers became aware of how to drive safely near CDOT’s snow plows; 41% of I-70 travelers said that because of CDOT’s “Bow to the Plow” public service announcements (you can see one below), they changed the way they drove around snow plows;
- 72% of I-70 winter travelers were aware of the “Move It Law”; and
- 61% of I-70 travelers mostly drove with family or friends, reducing the number of cars on the road.
All of those behaviors helped to significantly reduce the impacts that car accidents had on the corridor, Rice said. He noted that a crash “that takes just 10 minutes to clear can delay traffic up to one hour.”
Those surveyed about the three-pronged plan strongly favored it. CDOT writes that 89% of those surveyed said they appreciated getting information about real-time road conditions, and 85% were happy to learn of current construction projects, both before and during their drive on the I-70 Mountain Corridor, CDOT writes. Because of the favorable response, CDOT will continue its online streaming of Mountain Travel Radio, CDOT writes.
The survey was based on 1,623 completed and 912 partly completed surveys, CDOT writes. Participants were recruited to take the surveys through partner organizations, such as resorts, and the I-70 Coalition, mountain communities, and CDOT’s social media outlets.
Here is one of the “Bow to the Plow” public service announcements: