Traffic Assistance Programs Set to Start on I-70

November 22, 2011 - 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) begins 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 fifth season of Heavy Tow coverage begins on Wednesday, November 23, (no Thanksgiving Day coverage) and resumes on Friday, November 25 (8 a.m. - 4 p.m.), with operations then continuing each weekend through Sunday, April 8, 2012.  Operations typically run on Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.  Other coverage days include New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 16) and President’s Day (Monday, February 20).  CDOT may also implement the program at other times due to adverse weather or other circumstances.

“Along with our other I-70 programs, Heavy Tow achieves its primary goal – to keep traffic safely moving along this busy corridor,” said CDOT Regional Transportation Director Tony DeVito.  “We started this program almost four years ago, when it used to take almost an hour to reopen a lane blocked by a semi or other large truck.  With the implementation of Heavy Tow, we’ve now reduced the opening time to an average of 22 minutes.”

During the 2010/2011 winter season, Heavy Tow relocated 193 commercial vehicles and cleared lanes 214 times.*

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program, which researches problem areas affecting highways, estimates a roadway 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 fourth 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 visit the stations when assistance is taking place, inspecting and assuring quality service is being provided.  It also is scheduled to begin this week, if necessary, and continue, as needed, through the winter.

The Courtesy Patrol program begins on Friday, November 25.  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 pickups and a tow truck patrol I-70 between the top of Floyd Hill and Vail, 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.  Following the holidays, patrols will run every weekend through April 1, 2012.

“These programs have been effective at reducing congestion and delay times on the I-70 Corridor,” added DeVito.  “But we’re also reminding drivers to do their part by keeping their vehicles ready for winter travel, including having adequate tire traction, carrying an emergency kit with items like water, food, blankets, a shovel and ice scraper.  Also, be prepared by knowing what road conditions to expect.”

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.

*Summary of I-70 Events between Vail Pass and Morrison Road Interchange: September 1, 2010 to April 30, 2011

  • Implemented Chain Law:                  220
  • Total Accidents:                             159 (Commercial Vehicles 39/Non-Commercial Vehicles 120)
  • Closures due to adverse weather:      31 (84 hours, 4 minutes)
  • Other Closures:                                4 (Sun glare; medical emergency, grass fire, rock mitigation)


**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.