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CDOT encourages motorists to prepare vehicles now for winter driving

November 6, 2015 - Northwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 3 - Check highway & weather conditions before heading out and abide by Traction and Passenger Vehicle Chain laws, if implemented.

ROAD CONDITION/CLOSURE INFORMATION: To find the conditions and closures (including camera shots), log onto CDOT’s traveler information site at www.cotrip.org or call 511 from anywhere in the state. Better yet, sign up to receive CDOT Alerts to your email or mobile device (go to www.codot.gov and click the white envelope at the bottom of the page). Watch for periodic winter driving photos on our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @ColoradoDOT. Also, download the free CDOT Mobile for information regarding the I-70 and I-25 corridors by texting “CDOT” to 25827 or search CDOT Mobile in your App Store.

NORTHWEST COLORADO –Winter weather has already moved into Northwest Colorado and CDOT wants to remind motorists to be prepared for the driving conditions. On I-70 today the forecast is calling for snow showers throughout the day that will keep roads icy and snow-packed in locations across the corridor. Our partners at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) are forecasting another possible storm moving into the region early next week.

During a winter storm, CDOT maintenance crews are on standby for round-the-clock patrol shifts. Maintenance area crews (see Area and Patrol details, below) are out on 24-hour operation—typically on rotating 12-hour shifts—until they reach dry road conditions. This means that during a storm, at least half the crew members on each patrol are out at any given time, some overlapping their shifts to keep coverage consistent. And, when warranted, avalanche control crews are working together with CAIC forecasters to trigger avalanches before they can run naturally.

Motorists should be aware the Traction Law (Code 15) and Passenger Vehicle Chain Law (Code 16) could be implemented if conditions require it.  When either law is in effect, highway signage will be activated.

  • Traction Law — Motorists will need snow tires, tires with mud/snow (M/S) designation, or a four-wheel drive vehicle — all tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread.
  • Passenger Vehicle Chain Law — Every vehicle on the roadway must have chains or an alternative traction device (like AutoSock).

Without proper equipment, you can be fined $130. If your vehicle blocks the roadway, you could be fined more than $650.

“We ask motorists to take it slow when approaching our plows and give us room to work, said Mike Goolsby, CDOT Maintenance Superintendent for Section 2. “Our goal is to get the roads clear and safe as efficiently as possible.” 

“Motorists who have taken the time to get their vehicles prepared for winter weather will have a much better time navigating the conditions that change so rapidly,” stated Mark Eike, Maintenance Superintendent for Section 6 in Craig.

The following information provides details on each of Section 2’s and Section 6’s Maintenance Area and Patrol locations, personnel and equipment. Note: In addition to the patrol crews listed below, the Maintenance Section also includes special crews dedicated to avalanche mitigation, rest area maintenance, heavy equipment operation and shop maintenance. Our avalanche mitigation crew is in charge of avalanche control missions (in coordination with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center) on six mountain passes:  I-70 Vail Pass, US 6 Loveland Pass, US 40 Berthoud Pass, US 40 Rabbit Ears Pass, CO 82 Independence Pass and CO 65 Grand Mesa.

Additional tips for getting prepared for winter weather travel are noted below.

CDOT Region 3, Maintenance Section 2, Grand Junction
The entire Grand Junction Maintenance Section (also see individual maintenance areas within this Section, below) has 290 maintenance workers and 136 snow plows.  Other plow trucks will carry sand/salt for providing traction or, at optimum temperatures, sand pre-wetted with liquid deicer for traction and effective ice-melting. Section 2 maintenance crews take care of 4,038 lane-miles (the combined lengths of each lane on every highway in the section).

Grand Junction Maintenance Area
Patrols located in:  Grand Junction (3 plows), Whitewater (3 plows), Cedaredge (3 plows), Gateway (3 plows),  Loma (6 plows), Mesa (3 plows), De Beque (3 plows), Parachute (3 plows), Grand Junction (3 plows) and the Fruita Rest Area. There are 44 maintenance workers, 57 pieces of equipment (including 29 snowplows, 8 of which are equipped with *MDSS) and 1,518.53 total lane miles (combined length of all highways’ individual lanes). Total winter budget:  $1,546,407.

Montrose Maintenance Area
Patrols located in: two in Montrose (6 plows), Lake City (3 plows), Gunnison (5 plows), Crested Butte (2 plows), Blue Mesa (3 plows), Delta (4 plows), Crawford/Black Mesa (2 plows), and Paonia (3 plows). There are 44 maintenance workers, 51 pieces of equipment (including 27 snowplows, 6 of which are equipped with *MDSS), and 1,048.52 total lane miles. Total winter budget: $1,851,002.

Glenwood Springs Maintenance Area
Patrols located in:  Rifle (4 plows), two in Glenwood Springs (7 plows), Aspen (5 plows), Carbondale (3 plows), plus Rest Area patrols are located at No Name, which maintain rest areas at Rifle, No Name, and Grizzly Creek. There are 40 maintenance workers, 40 pieces of equipment (including 18 snowplows, 16 of which are equipped with *MDSS), and 703.29 total lane miles (combined length of all highways’ individual lanes). Total winter budget: $2,026,730.

I-70 Hanging Lake Tunnel Maintenance Area (MP 125 in Glenwood Canyon)
Crews maintain the tunnel and its control center 24/7, dispatching maintenance patrol crews to highway incidents from I-70 mm 213 to the Utah border on I-70 corridor, and secondary roads from Grand Junction, Montrose, Gunnison and Leadville areas. There are 33 maintenance workers, 15 pieces of equipment (including 1 snowplow), Total winter budget: $105,437.

Gypsum Maintenance Area
Patrols are located in:  two patrols in Gypsum (7 plows), Wolcott (4 plows), two patrols in Dowd Junction (10 plows), Leadville (6 plows), and Twin Lakes (2 plows), Vail Pass (8 plows); also Bair, Edwards and Hanging Lake rest areas. There are 54 maintenance workers, 51 pieces of equipment (including 35 snowplows, 28 of which are equipped with MDSS), and 769 total lane miles (combined length of all highways’ individual lanes). Total winter budget: $3,092,814.

Summit County Maintenance
Patrols are located in:  Silverthorne (for I-70 Frisco to east Summit County, 10 plows), Silverthorne (for SH 9 and surrounding, 4 plows), Vail Pass (7 plows), Loveland Pass (4 plows) and Frisco (2 plows). This maintenance area also includes the rest area on Vail Pass. There are 40 maintenance workers (not including control room and office staff), 59 pieces of equipment (including 28 snowplows, 28 of which are equipped with MDSS), and 262.94 total lane miles (combined length of all highways’ individual lanes). Total winter budget: $3,092.814.

Region 3, Maintenance Section 6, Craig
The entire Craig Maintenance Section (also see individual maintenance areas, below) has 96 maintenance workers and 64 pieces of snow removal. There are 25 trucks are equipped with liquid deicer applicator tanks. Other plow trucks will carry sand/salt for providing traction or, at optimum temperatures, sand pre-wetted with liquid deicer for traction and effective ice-melting. Section 6 maintenance crews take care of 1704.435 lane-miles (the combined lengths of each lane on every highway in the section).

West Maintenance Area
The West Maintenance Area includes patrols in: Maybell (3 plows), Skull Creek (3 plows), Craig East (5 plows), Hayden (2 plows) Steamboat Springs (3 plows) Yampa (3 plows), Meeker (4 plows), Rifle (2 plows) and Rangely (4 plows). The West Maintenance Area has 44 maintenance workers and 28 pieces of snow removal (including 28 snowplows,12 of which are equipped with *MDSS). 12 trucks are equipped with liquid deicer applicator tanks. Other plow trucks carry sand/salt and for providing traction. 10 loaders and 8 graders assist in the snow removal process. West Area maintenance crews take care of 548.14 lane-miles. Total winter budget:  $2,590,019.

East Maintenance Area
The East Maintenance Area includes patrols in: Rabbit Ears Pass (5 plows), Kremmling (4 plows), Hot Sulphur Springs (3 plows), Granby (5 plows), Walden (5 plows) and Berthoud Pass West (4 plows). The East Maintenance Area has 45 maintenance workers and 28 pieces of snow removal (including 26 snowplows, 8 of which are equipped with *MDSS), 2 snow cats, 3 snow blowers, 8 loaders, and 6 graders. 10 trucks are equipped with liquid deicer applicator tanks. Other plow trucks carry sand/salt and for providing traction. East Area maintenance crews take care of 597.4 lane-miles. Total winter budget:  $ 2,590,019.00.

*Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS), installed on many CDOT plow trucks throughout the state, combines advanced weather and road condition prediction and rules of practice for anti-icing and de-icing to generate road treatment recommendations on a route-by-route basis. The goal of MDSS is to provide more effective use of maintenance resources in order to increase safety, reliability and mobility on roadways. The MDSS system allows CDOT crews to input real-time conditions, including road and ambient temperature, type of snow removal products being used and the application rate. After comparing the information to 15 weather reports, the system will then provide suggested treatments based on the information and models. The system may tell the operator to re-treat the road at a later time, apply different products at different rates or even to continue current procedures. The suggested treatment can then be followed or the operator can override the system.

WINTER TRAVEL TIPS:

AVOID A FINE!  Motorists should be aware the Traction Law (Code 15) and Passenger Vehicle Chain Law (Code 16) could be implemented if conditions require it.  When either law is in effect, highway signage will be activated.

  • Traction Law — Motorists will need snow tires, tires with mud/snow (M/S) designation, or a four-wheel drive vehicle — all tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread.
  • Passenger Vehicle Chain Law — Every vehicle on the roadway must have chains or an alternative traction device (like AutoSock).

Without proper equipment, you can be fined $130. If your vehicle blocks the roadway, you could be fined more than $650.

  • Know before you go! Visit CDOT’s traveler information site at www.cotrip.org; sign up for “CDOT Alerts” in your chosen area by going to www.codot.gov and choosing the white envelope at the bottom of the page; log onto CDOT’s Winter Driving web page at:  https://www.codot.gov/travel/winter-driving for road conditions winter driving tips and other information; or for I-70 West Mountain Corridor travel, go here: http://goi70.com/.
  • Be sure you have good snow tires. How do you know if you need new snow tires? Insert a quarter into the tire tread upside down, with Washington’s head going in first; if the top of George’s head is covered by the tread, your tires are OK (do this test in multiple points around each tire.) If the top of his head is visible at any point, you need new tires.
  • Always keep the top half of your gas tank full. It can give you better traction and gives you a bigger margin of error if you get stuck and have to keep the engine running periodically to keep warm.
  • If you are stuck in a serious storm do not leave your car. Run the engine periodically and wait for help.
  • Carry blankets, water, a flashlight, a shovel, some nutrition bars or other food for sustenance. Winterize your vehicle's safety kit by including extra blankets, sand to help gain traction in the event you become stuck on ice or snow, jumper cables, an ice scraper and lock deicer.
  • Remember that 4-wheel drive does not mean 4-wheel stop. A 4-wheel drive vehicle will not stop any better in icy conditions, especially if you have inadequate snow tires.
  • Drive for the conditions. In poor visibility or even whiteout conditions, don't drive faster than you can see ahead. High speeds in poor or no visibility can lead to large chain reaction accidents.
  • Respect winter weather. Conduct a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle, and leave extra space between your automobile and others on the road (including plow trucks). Of course, always buckle up!

SNOW REMOVAL PRODUCTS:

  • Magnesium Chloride:  In solutions that utilize up to 30 percent magnesium chloride, this product is effective for pavement surface temperatures down to 16 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cold Temperature Modified Magnesium Chloride:  In solutions that utilize up to 27 percent magnesium chloride, this product is used when surface temperatures fall below approximately 15 degrees Fahrenheit. These products have a corn-processed byproduct additive that greatly lowers the freezing point of magnesium chloride.
  • Ice Slicer:  This is a solid product made up of mainly sodium chloride; it also contains small amounts of other materials making it more effective at lower temperatures than pure sodium chloride.

CDOT MAINTENANCE JOB OPPORTUNITIES STATEWIDE: CDOT hires maintenance personnel year-round to join the dedicated women and men who tirelessly work to maintain Colorado’s state roadways. CDOT maintenance workers enjoy paid vacation and sick leave, medical and dental plans, life insurance, choice of retirement plans, training, work-life programs and tuition reimbursement. A commercial driver’s license and heavy equipment operation experience is required. Find out more online at http://agency.governmentjobs.com/Colorado.

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