CDOT Maintenance Crews in Northwest Colorado Prepare for the Winter Ahead

October 25, 2011 - Northwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 3 - Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, AND Routt Counties — Governor Hickenlooper has proclaimed this week as Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Colorado.

Appropriately, maintenance crews from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) in the northwest portion of the state are prepared for the impending winter season with an arsenal of tools and equipment to battle the storms.

Northwest Colorado is split into two winter maintenance patrols; one in Craig and one in Kremmling. The Craig area includes patrols from 49 maintenance employees dedicated to plowing and de-icing 942 lane miles of state highways in Craig, Hayden, Maybell, Meeker, Rangely, Rifle, Skull Creek, Steamboat Springs, and Yampa. Patrols in Kremmling are manned by 44 maintenance employees who maintain 680 lane miles of highway over Rabbit Ears Pass and including Granby, Hot Sulfur Springs, Kremmling, and Walden. To help crews combat snow and ice along more than 1,600 lane miles of highway, a variety of equipment and products will be used throughout the winter.

“We have several products and tools that are used in coordination with our snow removal equipment to help us keep our highways clear of snow and ice,” said CDOT Maintenance Supervisor Les Anderson. “Our crews will work as quickly and efficiently as possible to make sure the roadways are safe for motorists.”    CDOT first treats and plows primary roads such as US 40 and State Highway (SH) 131. Secondary routes include SH 9, SH 13, SH 14, SH 125, and SH 131. Highway segments with an annual average daily traffic (AADT) count less than 1,000 will experience limited snow removal operations. For the most part, CDOT crews will maintain these highway 14-hours a day, from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. (exceptions may be granted for school bus routes, highway segments with high accident rates or hospital/emergency routes). To see a complete list of highways with limited plow coverage, visit

To help maintenance crews combat the snow and ice, CDOT will use liquid de-icers, solid de-icers, and a sand/salt mixture. The two main types of liquid de-icers that will be in used this winter are magnesium chloride and cold temperature magnesium chloride. Magnesium chloride* is effective at pavement temperatures above 16 degrees Fahrenheit while cold temperature modified magnesium chloride* is effective for pavement temperatures below 16 degrees Fahrenheit. Trucks are equipped with infrared sensors to monitor ambient and pavement temperatures throughout a storm.

The two types of solid de-icers that will be used are Ice Slicer and North American Salt. Both are granular salts mixed with magnesium chloride. Ice Slicer is primarily used for pavement temperatures 20 degrees Fahrenheit and below while North American Salt is primarily used for pavement temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit. In some areas, crews will mix the solid de-icers with sand for increased traction.

To disperse these various products, the Craig and Kremmling maintenance crews will use 39 pieces of snow removal equipment. Of the 39 pieces, 27 are snow plows used to apply solid and liquid de-icers. Also, there are nine loaders and three motor graders for the removal of heavy or large amounts of snow.

Last year, CDOT crews in Craig plowed 305,700 total lane miles, sprayed 184,075 gallons of liquid deicers, and spread 8,886 tons of sand/salt products on the roadways. They expended more than 41 hours of ice control and 2,892 hours of specialized snow removal with heavy equipment. Crews in the Kremmling area plowed 319,428 total lane miles, sprayed 42,857 gallons of liquid deicer, and spread 16,608 tons of sand/salt products. They expended more than 47 hours of ice control and 5,655 hours of specialized snow removal with heavy equipment.

While CDOT is prepared for the winter ahead, it is also important for motorists to be prepared. CDOT strongly encourages motorists to plan ahead by visiting or by calling 511 anywhere in Colorado. Current road and weather conditions are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You can also sign up for e-mail and text message alerts by visiting and clicking on the green cell phone icon in the upper right corner under the search function. You can subscribe to any of the lists for free and there is an entire list dedicated to northwest Colorado.

Here are a few winter driving tips to remember:

  • Be sure your windshield wiper fluid reservoirs are full as liquid de-icers may stick to your windshield.
  • Let the snowplow drivers do their jobs by giving them extra room and don’t pass them on the right.
  • Slow down! Even roads that have been treated with liquid de-icers may be slippery.
  • Be prepared. Have a scraper, snow brush, coat, hat, gloves, blanket, first aid kit, flashlight, tire chains, water, and nonperishable food in your car.
  • Make sure your tires have good tread.

For more information about CDOT’s snow removal plan including equipment and products, visit

**Snow Removal Products:

Magnesium Chloride in solutions up to 30% - Effective for use down to 16 degrees Fahrenheit pavement surface temperature.

Cold Temperature Modified Magnesium Chloride in solutions up to 27% magnesium chloride - Used when surface temperatures fall below approximately 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Products meeting this description have a corn byproduct additive that greatly lowers the freezing point of magnesium chloride.

Ice Slicer and North American Salt - A solid product that is mainly sodium chloride with small amounts of other materials that help this product 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.