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Coronavirus Stay-At-Home Order Pushes I-70 Traffic Levels Back To Pre-1980

SILVERTHORNE, Colo. (CBS4)- Traffic managers in Colorado are digging into their archives to find comparisons to what traffic counts look like along the Interstate 70 mountain corridor. This comes after Gov. Jared Polis issued a stay-at-home order last month that has been extended through April.

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(credit: CBS)

Traffic counts at the Continental Divide tell the story best. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, they are seeing two-thirds fewer vehicles passing through the Eisenhower and Johnson Tunnels.

While that shows many people are following the stay at home orders, local leaders in places west of the Continental Divide still believe there's work to be done to keep even more people from traveling there.

The message from CDOT is blunt and posted on electronic signs across the state saying "Stay home stay alive."

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(credit: CBS)

Data shows drivers are complying-- for the most part.

"The day following the stay-at-home order being announced, counts dropped dramatically to 7,500, traffic dropped about two-thirds," Bob Wilson with CDOT said. "We've never seen anything like this before, besides an extended closure or something for a rock slide."

Wilson says with less traffic on the road, conditions for workers still completing important highway projects are actually improving.

"Making for safer conditions for crews to work, especially in the widening project from Idaho Springs to Empire," Wilson said.

Many projects are still on schedule despite the current crisis.

RELATED: Latest Updates On The Coronavirus Outbreak In Colorado

CDOT is also working to educate drivers their crews encounter along highways parked at popular trail areas and mountain passes.

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"We are working with CSP to discourage people from parking at places like Loveland Pass," Wilson added.

That is putting the brakes on what is typically one of the busiest highway corridors in the state.

Additional Information from CDOT:

Saturday, March 28, 2020 Westbound 5152 10212
Saturday, March 28, 2020 Eastbound 5060  
Sunday, March 29, 2020 Westbound 4452 9637
Sunday, March 29, 2020 Eastbound 5185  
Saturday, March 30, 2019 Westbound 19244 42948
Saturday, March 30, 2019 Eastbound 23704  
Sunday, March 31, 2019 Westbound 15983 43949
Sunday, March 31, 2019 Eastbound 27966  

Below is last weekend compared to lower traffic numbers in 2020 to 1980. The tunnel traffic has returned to a 1980-type level, even less. That 1980 weekend was three months AFTER the Johnson Tunnel opened to traffic. From 1973 to December 1979, traffic was head-to-head in the Eisenhower Tunnel while they built the Johnson Tunnel.

cdot I-70 numbers
(credit: CDOT)
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