Maintenance Patrols West Of Denver Ready For Start Of Winter

December 21, 2010 - Central Eastern Colorado/CDOT Region 1 - CLEAR CREEK, GILPIN, GRAND, JEFFERSON, PARK & SUMMIT COUNTIES – As winter begins today, and more heavy snow on the way in the high country, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) maintenance personnel are continuing to battle snow and ice on mountain highways and are prepared for more of the same over the next few months.

“We’ve had plenty of winter weather to date and we’re ready for much more,” said CDOT Maintenance Foreman Ty Anderson, who oversees the western portion of the Interstate 70 corridor between Idaho Springs and Vail (Paul Maintenance Area).  “We’re continuing to use all of our available resources to keep the highways open and safe for travel.”

The Paul Maintenance Area, which includes most of Summit and Clear Creek counties and a small area of Grand County, has 65 maintenance workers and 45 trucks.  A minimum of 23 trucks are operating around the clock during snowstorms.  Eight trucks, including two tankers, are used to apply de-icers and other plow trucks carry sand/salt and ice slicer to provide traction.*

Paul-Area crews take care of 698 lane-miles (the combined lengths of each lane on every highway in the region), which includes 50 miles of Interstate 70, three mountain passes (Loveland, east side of Vail and Berthoud) and the Eisenhower Tunnel approaches.

During the winter of 2009/2010, Paul maintenance crews plowed 582,930 total miles.  Crews also sprayed 1,119,079 gallons of de-icer, spread 40,639 tons of sand/salt and ice slicer and spent 8,037 hours in other snow removal-type activities.

The Mary Maintenance Area oversees sections of Jefferson, Park, Clear Creek and Gilpin counties. It has 52 maintenance workers and 25 trucks operating during snowstorms, eight which are used to apply de-icers.  Other plow trucks carry sand/salt and Ice Slicer to provide traction.

“Even though the snow hasn’t been as heavy in this area as in other areas, we’ve had our share of winter driving conditions and we’re preparing for a lot more as we begin winter,” says Larry Dungan, CDOT maintenance foreman for the Mary Area.

Mary Maintenance Area crews oversee 874 lane-miles, which includes 20 miles of I-70 (between Mount Vernon Canyon and Idaho Springs), three passes (Kenosha, Hoosier and Red Hill), Evergreen Parkway and Bear Creek Canyon (State Highway 74), Highway 119 between U.S. 6 and Highway 72, State Highway 9 between Fairplay and Hoosier Pass and U.S. 285 between Morrison and Fairplay.

“Highway 285 through South Park is a continuing challenge in winter since blowing snow through that area makes driving difficult for motorists and plow drivers alike,” added Dungan, “so remember, if you have to travel on a windy day, please use your headlights, slow down, pass with extra caution and drive defensively.”

During the winter of 2009/2010, Mary maintenance crews plowed 318,418 total miles.  Crews also sprayed 1,242,302 gallons of deicer, spread 20,284 tons of sand/salt and ice slicer and spent 3,811 hours in other snow removal-type activities.

Paul and Mary area maintenance crews operate in two shifts during the winter season: 4 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 12 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  However, when inclement weather sets in, crews switch to 24-hour coverage (two12-hour shifts).

Current road and weather conditions are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via reports and traffic cameras on the web site.  Road condition information also is available by calling 511.


  1. Log on to CDOT’s Winter Driving web page at: for road conditions winter driving tips and other information
  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!

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*Snow Removal Products:
Magnesium Chloride in solutions up to 30%.  - Effective for use down to 160 F pavement surface temperature.

Cold Temperature Modified Magnesium Chloride in solutions up to 27% magnesium chloride - Used when surface temperatures fall below approximately 150 F.  Products meeting this description have a corn procession byproduct additive that greatly lowers the freezing point of magnesium chloride.

Ice Slicer - A solid product, mainly sodium chloride, with small amounts of other materials that help this product to work at lower temperatures than pure sodium chloride.  It is used to melt ice pack at curves and intersections and other spot locations that make it difficult to de-ice with liquids.