Transportation

Latest Winter Driving Nightmare: Today's I-70 Mountain Safety Closure

This scene on I-70 last weekend is likely to be repeated today.
This scene on I-70 last weekend is likely to be repeated today. CBS4
Editor's note: According to a tweet from the Colorado Department of Transportation, the I-70 closure between Frisco and Vail described below ended at around 4 p.m. on Thursday, February 13. Continue for our previous coverage.

Thanks to a steady barrage of winter weather, Colorado drivers have already had a helluva February, and it won't get any better for those planning on traveling through the mountain corridor today. Interstate 70 will close at 11 a.m. today, February 13, and is likely to stay closed for hours.

Why? The Colorado Department of Transportation describes the shutdown between Frisco and Vail Pass as a "safety closure" to allow "winter maintenance operations in preparation for a busy Presidents Day weekend."

This planned closure will probably actually happen, unlike a huge lane shift on I-70 at the Brighton Boulevard exit, which was scheduled to get under way on the evening of February 6 only to be snowed out. (The change, which will no doubt prompt widespread commuter freakouts and attendant slowdowns, has yet to be rescheduled.)


Then, this past weekend, another wintry blast created incredible I-70 backups through the mountains, especially on Sunday, February 9, when delays could be measured with an hourglass as a result of multiple temporary closures because of crashes.

At least today's actions were announced in advance, though there's no telling how long they'll last; CDOT notes that I-70 along this stretch is likely to be inaccessible through the early afternoon, but the work could take longer. In the meantime, the agency offers the following reminders about chain and traction laws:
CDOT urges travelers to be aware of chain and traction law codes before heading out on the roadway.

Code 18/Commercial Chain Law: Commercial vehicles and trucks must have chains. Vehicles without chains can often lose traction, causing traffic delays and sometimes road closures. For the safety of the traveling public, it's critical to use chains to be in compliance with Colorado's chain law.

Code 15/Passenger Traction Law: All passenger vehicles must have appropriate all-weather tires with 3/16-inch depth. Vehicles must have one of the following: winter tires, tires with mud/snow (M+S) designation, chains or alternative traction devices such as an autosock. 4WD and AWD vehicles must have winter tires or all weather tires.

Code 16/Passenger Chain Law: All passenger vehicles need chains, except for 4WD and AWD vehicles with all-weather tires with 3/16 inch tread depth.
To that, we add the advice contained in our recent post "Idiots' Biggest Winter Driving Mistakes in Colorado Mountains":

Don't be that guy. And be prepared to sit and wait if you need to drive I-70 around mid-day.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts