There are already plenty of distractions along I-70 for weekend motorists, including crowded lanes, unexplained slowdowns and accidents. And now ziplines shooting thrill-seekers back and forth between six-story towers in the Dumont to Idaho Springs areas are causing gawking among motorists on eastbound I-70, particularly in the Downieville-to-Dumont corridor.
It's clogging traffic on the weekends and making a bad situation worse, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. CDOT compared travel times from July and August 2011 with the same times this year and found commuting lags in some instances.
On Sunday, July 31, 2011, at 1 p.m., it took 31 minutes to get from Georgetown to Idaho Springs, and the average speed was 24 mph. On Sunday, July 29, 2012, at 1 p.m., that same trip — when the zipline was operating — took 44 minutes with an average speed of 16 mph, according to CDOT.
On Sunday, July 24, 2011, at 1 p.m., the trip from Georgetown to Idaho Springs took 32 minutes and the average speed was 22 mph. But on Sunday, July 22, 2012, at 1 p.m., the same trip took 43 minutes and the average speed was 17 mph, according to CDOT figures.
Ziplines have become hugely popular in some areas, including Colorado. Clear Creek County's first zipline began operating in Dumont on Memorial Day weekend. Colorado Canopy Adventures plans to have the zipline open as long as weather permits.
The zipline course consists of five large wooden towers, all six stories tall, and riders cross Clear Creek several times. Each rider wears a harness which connects to the line above. The ziplines run parallel to eastbound I-70 and are clearly visible to drivers, but there is also rubbernecking among westbound drivers.