Drivers who illegally use the I-70 Mountain Express Lanes will face new fines and camera enforcement, starting this summer.
On Tuesday, March 15, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law House Bill 22-1074.
The law allows officials to crack down on passenger and commercial vehicle drivers who unlawfully use the 13 mile length of the I-70 Mountain Express Lanes running from Empire at mile marker 230 through the Veterans Memorial Tunnels to Idaho Springs.
Enforcement of the law will begin in August 2022.
The new law will allow the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to use camera technology to identify and fine drivers using the I-70 Mountain Express Lanes illegally.
Any motor vehicle with more than 2 axles or that is 25 feet in length or longer is never permitted to use the I-70 Mountain Express Lanes.
Passenger vehicle drivers caught using the I-70 Mountain Express Lanes when they are closed will also be fined. When the lanes are open, CDOT will use the camera technology to toll drivers.
CDOT will issue fines of up to $250 through the mail.
CDOT opened the eastbound I-70 Mountain Express Lanes in 2015 and the westbound I-70 Mountain Express Lanes in 2021. Law requires that the lanes only open approximately 100 days per year when the highway experiences the highest traffic congestion (primarily holidays and weekends). This 100 day rule was put into place because the lanes were created using the existing roadway rather than widening the road, making the lanes more narrow than a traditional interstate lane. Because of the narrow lanes, CDOT and federal regulators agreed to only open the lanes a certain number of hours each year. When the lanes are closed, they function as a wide shoulder.
Highway signs are used to inform drivers when the lanes are open.
State officials say that about 50,000 drivers used the eastbound I-70 Mountain Express Lanes illegally in 2020. According to officials, drivers who use these lanes illegally pose a safety hazard.