Traffic Assistance Programs Set to Start on I-70

November 23, 2010 - Central Eastern Colorado/CDOT Region 1 - Heavy Tow, Chain Assistance & Courtesy Patrol in place as holiday travel begins.

DENVER – The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is beginning three seasonal programs over the Thanksgiving holiday to help keep traffic moving and maintain safety along the Interstate 70 West corridor.

Heavy Tow is a program designed to promptly clear large trucks from the highway.  United States Auto Club is providing standby heavy wreckers this winter at strategic locations on I-70 between Ward Road in Wheat Ridge and Dotsero in Eagle County.  Up to five wreckers can be dispatched quickly to move commercial vehicles from traffic lanes to a safe location during weekends and holidays.

The fourth season of Heavy Tow coverage begins on Wednesday, November 24, (no Thanksgiving Day coverage) and resumes on Friday, November 26 (8 a.m. - 4 p.m.), with operations then continuing each weekend through Sunday, April 3, 2011.  Operations typically run on Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. along westbound I-70, and on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. along eastbound I-70.  Other coverage days include New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 17) and President’s Day (February 21).  Other inclement weather days can be added when CDOT deems it necessary.

“Heavy Tow accomplishes one of our primary goals – to keep traffic safely moving along I-70,” says CDOT Regional Transportation Director Tony DeVito.  “It used to take almost an hour to reopen a lane blocked by a semi or other large truck.  With Heavy Tow, we initially got the open time down to 27 minutes.  We’ve reduced it to, on average, 23 minutes and maintained that for a couple of years now.”

During the 2009/2010 winter season, Heavy Tow relocated 212 commercial vehicles and cleared lanes 245 times.  The National Cooperative Highway Research Program, which researches problem areas affecting highways, including operations and maintenance, estimates a highway loses 51% of its capacity when one of three lanes are blocked; 65% of capacity when one of two lanes are blocked.

By law, commercial vehicles are required to carry chains for travel on I-70 between Dotsero (mile 133) and the Morrison exit (#259) from September 1 through May 31.  To help truckers comply, CDOT is implementing its Chain Assistance program for the third year.  When the chain law is in effect, it allows drivers to purchase chains and chain-up service when approved vendors are present at any one of the 21 chain stations along I-70 between Dotsero and Denver West Boulevard.*  CDOT representatives frequently will visit the stations when assistance is taking place, inspecting and assuring quality service is being provided.  It also is scheduled to begin this week and continue, as needed, through the winter.

The Courtesy Patrol program begins on Friday, November 26.  Drivers of passenger and other smaller vehicles are provided free roadside assistance for services such as flat tires, fuel or water transfer, jump starts, short-distance towing, accident scene protection and minor mechanical assistance.  Three trucks patrol I-70 between the top of Floyd Hill and Silverthorne, looking for disabled vehicles.  Truck personnel also respond to requests from the Colorado State Patrol, local police or the Eisenhower Tunnel.

Courtesy Patrol operates primarily on weekends (Saturdays 6 a.m. to 8 p.m./Sundays 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.), including the holiday weekends of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and President’s Day.  Patrols will run every weekend through March 27, 2011.

“All these programs are designed to keep traffic safely moving along I-70 west of Denver but we’re also reminding drivers to do their part by keeping their vehicles ready for winter travel,” adds DeVito, “and that includes  having adequate tire traction, carrying an emergency kit with items like water, food, blankets, a shovel and ice scraper.  Also, know what road conditions to expect.  Be prepared is good advice for everyone traveling the highways.”

Road, weather and additional traveler information is available at, by calling 511 or via e-mail.  For e-mail updates, visit and click on the cell-phone icon in the upper right-hand corner.  The link takes you to a list of subscription items, including I-70 West, Denver to Glenwood Springs.


*I-70 West Chain Stations: 11 eastbound - at milepost 178, 183, 184 (shoulder), 187 (shoulder), 195, 203 (scenic area), 205, 219, 228, 241 and 251.  10 westbound - at mileposts 263, 260, 254 (Buffalo Overlook), 228, 223, 221, 219, 213 (brake check area) and 197 (scenic area) and 179.