Traffic Assistance Programs Set to Start on I-70

November 20, 2012 - Central Eastern Colorado/CDOT Region 1 - Heavy Tow, Chain Assistance & Courtesy Patrol

DENVER – The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) begins its annual winter programs over the Thanksgiving holiday to help keep traffic moving and maintain safety along the west Interstate 70 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 sixth season of Heavy Tow coverage begins on Wednesday, November 21, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., (no Thanksgiving Day coverage) and resumes on Friday, November 23 (8 a.m. - 4 p.m.), with operations then continuing each weekend through Sunday, April 28, 2013.  Operations typically run on Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.  Coverage also will be provided on New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 14) and President’s Day (Monday, February 18).  CDOT may also implement the program at other times due to adverse weather or other circumstances.

“Heavy Tow has shown that it achieves its primary goal – keeping traffic safely moving on I-70 in the high country,” said CDOT Regional Transportation Director Tony DeVito.  “When we started the program in January of 2008, the clearance time was about 27 minutes, down from almost the hour it took to reopen a lane blocked by a semi or other large truck before we implemented Heavy Tow.  Last season, we reduced that clearance time to an average of 20 minutes.”

During the 2011/2012 season, Heavy Tow relocated 166 commercial vehicles and cleared 210 lanes.*

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 (mile 259) from September 1 through May 31.  To help truckers comply, CDOT is implementing its Chain Assistance program for the fifth 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.

Three companies sold 254 sets of chains and installed 378 during the 2011/2012 winter season.

The Courtesy Patrol program begins on Friday, November 23.  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 March 31, 2013.

“These programs have been effective at reducing congestion and delay times on the I-70 Corridor,” added DeVito.  “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.

CDOT also has launched a new smartphone application to provide drivers with easier access to I-70 traveler information. It includes travel speeds and times, road conditions, incidents, road work; and feeds from CDOT's closed-circuit television cameras and alerts.  Text CDOT to 25827 or download CDOT Mobile from your App store.

*September 1, 2011 to April 30, 2012

  • Implemented Chain Law: 113
  • Total Accidents: 93 (Commercial 24/Non-Commercial Vehicles  69)
  • Closures due to adverse weather: 13 (40 hours, 1 minute)
  • Other Closures: 6 (Tunnel Vent. Test; Sign install; VMS in Traffic; Grass Fire; Sign Removal)

**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.