What does Colorado’s I-70 Construction Mean for Mountain Travel?

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Anyone from Colorado or familiar with the state automatically groans at the mention of Highway I-70. This notable (and infamous) highway runs from Utah to Maryland and is Colorado’s most extensive east-west thoroughfare. It connects Denver and Grand Junction, traversing the Rocky Mountains with breathtaking scenery along its route; however, this highway is one of Colorado’s most trafficked areas, serving as a bridge to the mountains for those hoping to experience Colorado’s ski resorts, mountain towns, and outdoor adventure opportunities. 

map of highway I-70 Colorado

Colorado’s I-70 Highway

As it traverses Colorado, highway I-70 offers a unique perspective of the state’s scenery and landmarks. As you travel west into the mountains, keep an eye out for bison, Colorado rivers, and mountain ranges.  Highway I-70 also passes through Glenwood Canyon, a spectacular passageway created by the Colorado River. The towering canyon walls rise on either side of I-70 before you approach the city of Glenwood Springs. This is also a stop on our ultimate fall (or any season!) road trip itinerary and is worth driving through.

woman standing outside car staring off into distance

About 60 miles west of Denver, travelers will encounter the Eisenhower Tunnel, a transportation initiative built through the Continental Divide. This tunnel divides Clear Creek County to the East and Summit County to the west and is the highest point along the Interstate Highway System at an elevation of 11,158 feet (3,401 meters).  

Read 40 Facts about the Eisenhower Tunnel to learn even more about this epic construction project.  

I-70’s Floyd Hill Construction Project

Traffic on I-70 Colorado

The Eisenhower Tunnel may be Colorado I-70’s most well-known construction project, yet improvements to this important transportation hub only continue.

In recent years, Colorado’s I-70 has experienced increased congestion and demand due to its growing Front Range population and increased mountain travel. Part of the solution to this problem is the current Floyd Hill construction project, a 700-million-dollar investment intended to improve traffic flow, reduce congestion, increase structural safety, and enhance sustainability efforts.

The project covers 8 miles of I-70 between Evergreen and Idaho Springs in Clear Creek County–a stretch that is “in desperate need of improvements” according to the CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation). Construction efforts began in the summer of 2023 and currently have a projected end date of late 2028.  

Traffic on highway

Components of the Floyd Hill Project include:

  • A frontage road between US 6 and Hidden Valley Parkway 
  • A tolled westbound I-70 Express Lane as an additional third lane from Exit 247 through Exit 241 
  • A longer on ramp for slower vehicles 
  • Straightened highway curves 
  • 2 restructured bridges across Clear Creek 
  • Improvements to the Clear Creek Greenway trail 

The project has 3 major construction phases that split this stretch of I-70 into distinct segments. Construction originated with the east section of highway and expanded this March into the west section, with the addition of the central section this fall. 

Some local residents are skeptical about the promised effects, especially regarding the construction of the third Express Lane. Some believe that by the time this lane is finished, demand will have already increased, leaving congestion just as bad as was previously, while others voice that it will only benefit the select group that can afford to pay for this privilege. Another concern is that the Express Lane is too far from the mountains to impact congestion from vacation and mountain travel and will not help with more local traffic.

I-70 Colorado

No matter what, this section of I-70 will look vastly different from what it is today, with hopefully, drastic improvements to I-70 to congestion and traffic. Watch CDOT’s video to view the construction plans and representations.

Addressing Environmental Concerns

Not only does the Floyd Hill construction project seek to make driving I-70 easier, but it will implement several environmental improvements in the area. These include wildlife crossings, additional fencing, and a specific area for eclectic vehicle services. Plans also entail the addition of air quality monitors. The project will additionally improve a section of the Clear Creek Greenway trail enjoyed by bikers, walkers, and runners.

deer crossing road

Travelling I-70 During Construction Stages

Due to this expansion, travelers this summer can expect reduced speeds, lane closures at night, and ramp closures during off-peak hours. Rock scaling may also lead to increased traffic and delays up to 45 minutes.

A one-mile segment of the Clear Creek Greenway trail will also be closed between Exit 244 and Exit 243 during the construction stages through spring 2027. For those hoping to still access the trail, a shuttle currently runs around this area. 

When planning a drive to the mountains, be sure to check COtrip for live updates on traffic and road conditions along I-70. 

Ride with a Shared Shuttle

Whether travelling for ski season or summer in the mountains, driving I-70 to Breckenridge, Vail, Keystone, Silverthorne, or another mountain destination has always been stressful due to traffic and difficult mountain roads. While we hope that the Floyd Hill Project will ease this congestion, there is no doubt that navigating I-70 conditions during the construction process will prove more difficult.  

Peak 1 express sprinter

 For this reason, there has never been a better time to choose a shared shuttle over a car! There are several steps drivers can take to avoid traffic on I-70, yet driving will still prove stressful and difficult. CDOT even advises choosing shuttle and carpool options to reduce the number of cars and thus congestion on I-70.  

While Peak 1 Express cannot eliminate this congestion, we can make mountain travel less stressful for you. Our highly trained drivers are experienced in navigating I-70 road conditions in all weather, traffic, and construction situations. While they drive to your mountain destination, you can relax, enjoying the mountain scenery out the window. And, with our shared shuttles starting at just $44, mountain travel has never been more affordable; this is cheaper than even a tank of gas! 

Book your I-70 and Denver airport ride with Peak 1 Express and travel stress free, while we wait for the highly anticipated improvements to Colorado’s well-traveled highway. 

Written by Rosa Canales, Copywriting Marketing Specialist