How to avoid Labor Day traffic on I-70 in Colorado’s mountains

While the four-day Labor Day weekend will mark one of the busiest traffic periods of the year in the Interstate 70 mountain corridor, a little planning can help motorists avoid the worst of it.

Westbound traffic as measured by vehicles traveling through the Eisenhower Tunnel last year was worst on Friday (30,249) and Saturday (26,659). Eastbound traffic through the adjacent Johnson Tunnel totaled 25,949 on Sunday and 30,517 on Monday. Overall, nearly 184,000 vehicles passed through the tunnels over the weekend.

Westbound traffic tends to be heaviest from mid-morning to late afternoon on Friday and from 7 a.m. to mid-afternoon on Saturday. Eastbound traffic on Labor Day usually is heavy from mid-morning to late-afternoon.

On the Friday of Labor Day weekend last year, the busiest hours for westbound traffic were from noon until 1 p.m. and 2-6 p.m, including a peak of 2,386 vehicles (nearly 40 per minute) from 4-5 p.m. Westbound traffic on Saturday peaked from 1-2 p.m. with 2,248 vehicles but continued to run heavy through 5 p.m.

Sunday eastbound ran heavy from 1-2 p.m. and from 3-6 p.m., running around 2,100 vehicles per hour, but it was much heavier eastbound on Monday. The busiest hours eastbound on Monday were 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., peaking at 2,952 vehicles from 11 a.m. to noon — nearly 50 per minute — but traffic continued to exceed 2,000 per hour through 7 p.m.

CDOT is reminding motorists that they should monitor weather reports and to check on conditions in Glenwood Canyon, which will be closed if a Flash Flood Warning is declared by the National  Weather Service to avoid danger from flooding and mudslides in the Grizzly Creek burn scar.

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