Coloradans know that driving through the mountains on Interstate 70 when it's snowing can be a nightmare, particularly given the volume of traffic coming and going from ski areas and roadside tourist attractions. But are drivers whose tires aren't in great shape making a bad situation worse?
That's the theory behind House Bill 15-1173, which calls for fines against drivers found to have insufficient tread on their tires or who fail to carry chains "during the snowy season." Photos, video, details and the complete bill below.
The bill is sponsored by Representative Diane Mitsch Bush, a Democrat. Here's how the measure describes the reason it's needed:
(a) Interstate 70 is the major east-west freeway route through Colorado;
(b) Interstate 70 is the only way to drive from Denver to many mountain communities;
(c) Mountain communities rely on Interstate 70 for goods and services, medical visits, business trips to Denver, and especially tourist visits, which are the key economic factors in these areas;
(d) Interstate 70 is the major route to several mountain resort areas, and these tourist hubs are a significant economic engine for the state;
(e) The Western Slope utilizes Interstate 70 to transport: agricultural products; natural resources, such as oil and gas; and forest 16 products to the Front Range and beyond;
(f) Both the Colorado department of transportation and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce have identified the Interstate 70 mountain corridor as essential for commerce in our state;
(g) During heavy snow and inclement weather, both Vail Pass and the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels, as well as other portions of Interstate 70 from Idaho Springs to Dotsero, have been reduced to one lane or completely closed on account of vehicles with inadequate winter driving equipment;
(h) Motorists driving passenger vehicles might not realize the equipment needed to successfully negotiate these stretches of Interstate 70;
(i) Lane closures and complete road closure both pose significant public safety risks, cost the taxpayers, and can result in significant economic losses for communities along Interstate 70 and for the entire state; and
(j) Therefore, another tool is needed to reduce travel times, road congestion, and highway closures. It is in the public interest to require vehicles to be properly equipped when traveling on Interstate 70 when inclement weather is likely to occur. This bill establishes a pilot-program traction law. If the pilot program is a success, the general assembly intends to expand the program with future legislation to cover other problematic highways.
The aforementioned "tool" is shorthanded in the proposal like so:
The bill requires all motor vehicles driving on interstate 70 between Morrison and Dotsero during the snowy season to:
• Have tires with the mountain-snowflake symbol and a tread depth of 1/8 inch; or
• Have tires with the M+S or M/S symbol and a tread depth of 1/8 inch;
• Carry tire chains or an equivalent traction device.
The penalties for a violation are a $100 fine and $32 surcharge.
As 7News notes, the Colorado Department of Transportation didn't specifically push for the legislation to be penned, but the folks there like the sound of it — no surprise given tweets like this one:
As written, the measure would be in effect from November 1 to May 15 — and if it proves to be successful, it could be expanded to other roadways in Colorado.
Here's a 7News report about the proposal, followed by the bill itself.