HOLIDAY SNOW! Scattered, wet storms bring uncertain and changing conditions

December 20, 2010 - Northwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 3 - Motorists encouraged to prepare vehicles for winter driving, check highway & weather conditions before holiday travel.

ROAD CONDITION INFORMATION: To find the conditions and closures, log onto our traveler information site at or call 511 from anywhere in the state. Better yet, sign up to receive wireless alerts and/or e-mails about road conditions on our web site!

NORTHWEST COLORADO – Here we are in the midst of another winter storm, this one promising to cover more of Colorado that its predecessors. This storm is bringing a great deal of rain and also wet, heavy snow and blowing winds in the high country. These kinds of conditions can translate into icy roads (particularly on ramps and bridges), avalanche hazards and even some rockfall. Colorado Department of Transportation Maintenance crews are—in many areas—either operating on, or on standby for, winter storm patrols. This means maintenance area crews (see worker numbers below) are out on 24-hour operation—or half the crews out at one time, on 12-hour shift—until they reach dry road conditions.

“This is the first major event of the season that has—or will—affect road conditions all over the Western Slope—high country and valleys,” CDOT Region 3 Maintenance Superintendent (Grand Junction Section) Toby Brown said. “The National Weather Service is calling for continued and heavy accumulations this week—we are reminding motorists to be prepared for their holiday travel, know the road conditions and take it slow.”

The following information details the 2009-2010 winter maintenance efforts throughout the Grand Junction Maintenance Section, which operates out of four main maintenance areas and numerous patrols.


Maintenance Operations for the past 2009-10 Winter Season

Grand Junction (“John”) Area
Patrols located in:  Grand Junction, Whitewater, Cedaredge, Gateway, Loma, Mesa, DeBeque, Parachute, Grand Junction and the Fruita Rest Area. There are 43 maintenance workers, 57 pieces of equipment, 1,518.53 total lane miles. Last winter, crews plowed 246,830; sprayed 420,675 gallons of liquid deicer; spread 793 tons of salt/sand; 304 tons of ice slicer (solid salt product); and finally spread 6,237 tons of “sand slicer” (solid de-icer) and 267,835 gallons of Apex (a cold-temperature modified liquid) last winter. Crews expended 51 hours of ice control and 1,893 hours of specialized snow removal with special equipment. (These figures are inclusive of Rest Area personnel, equipment and the maintenance of one Rest Area.)  Hours of avalanche control work:  214. Total winter budget:  $1,305,920.

Glenwood Springs (“King”) Area
Patrols located in:  Rifle, two in Glenwood Springs (one for Glenwood and one for the Canyon), El Jebel, Carbondale, plus Rest Area patrols located at No Name, which cover rest areas at Rifle, West Glenwood, No Name, and Grizzly Creek. There are 41 maintenance workers, 40 pieces of equipment, and 703.29 total lane miles. Last winter, crews plowed 152,355 total lane miles; sprayed 707,688 gallons of liquid deicer; spread no salt/sand mixture; spread no ice slicer (solid salt product); and instead used 2,938 tons of “sand slicer” (solid de-icer) and 212,177 gallons of Apex (cold-temperature modified product) this past year. Crews expended 731 hours of ice control, expended 1,390 hours of specialized snow removal with special equipment. These figures are inclusive of Rest Area & Hanging Lake Tunnel personnel, equipment and the maintenance of four Rest Areas & Tunnel. Hours of avalanche control work: 39. Total winter budget: $1,696,350.

Montrose (Lincoln) Area
Patrols located in: Slumgullion and Spring Creek passes, Gunnison Area, Crested Butte, Blue Mesa, Cerro Summit, Lower Montrose Area, Delta Area, Crawford/Black Mesa and Paonia. There are 43 maintenance workers, 51 pieces of equipment, and 1,048.52 total lane miles. Last winter, crews plowed  317,569 lane miles; sprayed 262,524 gallons of liquid deicer; spread 8,126 tons of salt/sand; spread 63 tons of ice-slicer (solid salt product); and used 4,504 tons of sand slicer (solid de-icer) and 34,207 40,487 gallons of Apex (cold-temperature modified product). Crews expended 245 hours of ice control and 1,181 hours of specialized snow removal with special equipment; hours of avalanche control work: 11. Total winter budget: $1,528,062.

Gypsum (Mary) Area
Patrols located in:  Gypsum (2), Wolcott, Dowd Junction (2), Leadville, and Twin Lakes; also Bair, Edwards, and Hanging Lake rest areas. There are 43 maintenance workers, 51 pieces of equipment, and 769.28 total lane miles. Last winter, crews plowed 408,952 total lane miles; sprayed 6,276 gallons of liquid deicer; spread 8,129 tons of salt/sand; spread 555,416 tons of ice slicer (solid salt product); and used 1,614,015 tons of sand-slicer (a solid de-icer) and 313,272 gallons of Apex (a cold-temperature modified product). Crews expended 1,845 hours of ice control and 2,906 hours of specialized snow removal with special equipment. (These figures are inclusive of Rest Area personnel, equipment and the maintenance of three Rest Areas.)  Hours of avalanche control work: 220. Total winter budget: $2,059,854.


  1. Log on to CDOT’s Winter Driving web page at: for tips, road conditions, information on CDOT’s 14-hour snow plow coverage and more; or call 511 for statewide road conditions.
  2. 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.
  3. If you are stuck in a serious storm do not leave your car. Run the engine periodically and wait for help.
  4. 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 de-icer.
  5. 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.
  6. Be sure of your route. Don't go exploring in the back-country without some local knowledge, especially during a storm or when one is bearing down anywhere near your location.
  7. Be sure you have good tires. The Colorado State Patrol recommends at least 1/8 of an inch tread depth. All season radials on a front-wheel-drive passenger vehicle are adequate for most situations; install them on all four tires. Four snow tires on most rear-wheel drive vehicles are usually adequate. Chain restrictions in Colorado are most often put into effect for commercial vehicles (semi-trailer trucks) and do not usually affect passenger vehicles.
  8. 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. Remember you can't see around mountain curves and corners either.
  9. In addition to these winter driving tips, CDOT reminds all motorists to respect winter weather, conduct a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle, leave extra space between your automobile and others on the road, and never drink and drive. Of course, always buckle up!