I-70 Research Study Shows Both Positive Trends & Increasing Traveler Frustration

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SUMMIT COUNTY – The I-70 Coalition sponsored a research program this winter to learn what strategies frequent I-70 travelers utilize to deal with weekend congestion, glean interest in bus service, discover ride sharing habits, among many other topics. The study was designed to allow comparisons to similar research conducted over the last seven years. While still advocating for long term solutions for the Interstate 70 mountain corridor, the I-70 Coalition also works to implement near term strategies that can reduce congestion. The information from this research study will help the organization learn how existing travel resources and programs are being received and utilized by the traveling public and how they might be improved.

Surveys were conducted by RRC & Associates at the T-Rex and Wooly Mammoth lots in Morrison over three weekends in January and February 2019. These Dinosaur lots are a well-known gathering place for frequent weekend I-70 travelers with a demographic profile similar to the average Colorado skier/snowboarder. 

Based on this year’s counts at the Dinosaur lots, carpooling on the I-70 corridor continues to increase on winter weekends. The two most frequently identified motivations for carpooling are to “save on gas” and “social/fun”, but the data also shows that the desire to save on resort parking motivates skiers and riders to carpool.

The use of I-70 information resources increased since 2017 with 69% of those interviewed indicating they use information sources such as CoTrip.org and GoI70.com before they travel to the mountains.  Season pass holders are more likely to use information resources and those making more than 21 trips each winter season are more than twice as likely to use traffic information resources.

When asked about their likelihood of taking a ski bus in the future, 61% indicated they were very likely or somewhat likely to do so.

The research also incorporates survey results from the Front Range Panel, a broad sample of Front Range snowsport enthusiasts. It is encouraging to know that 95% of these visitors say they make an effort to avoid peak travel times, which is slightly up from 2017The most common strategies involve arriving early at a resort and/or leaving the resort early or late, staying overnight, and avoiding weekend travel.

Open-ended comments were solicited that provided additional insights and allowed panel participants the opportunity to comment on various aspects of travel through the mountain corridor. An increasing level of frustration is evident with many stating that weekend congestion has worsened to a point where none of the strategies for traffic avoidance are working.

A notable 67% of panel respondents reported that the frequency of their skiing/snowboarding trips have been reduced because of I-70 congestion. Major themes for how they have reduced their trips include avoidance of skiing/riding altogether, skiing/riding at locations other than those along the I-70 corridor, and skiing/riding during the week. This clearly demonstrates the negative influence I-70 congestion is having on corridor visitation.

“This I-70 User Study helps us understand the motivations and travel habits of frequent I-70 travelers. It also allows the I-70 Coalition and other stakeholders an ability to measure the effectiveness of education campaigns and I-70 congestion management programs. This information will be helpful as we consider future efforts to encourage transit use, carpooling, and other congestion reduction endeavors.” Margaret Bowes, Director of the I-70 Coalition said.

The I-70 User Study, including a four page executive summary, is posted here.

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About I-70 Mountain Corridor Coalition

The I-70 Coalition is a nonprofit organization formed in 2004 with a mission to improve mobility and accessibility on the I-70 Mountain Corridor. Members of the I-70 Coalition include 28 counties, towns and businesses along and adjacent to the I-70 Mountain Corridor. More information is available at www.i70solutions.org.

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