CDOT Prepared for Winter Storm

November 20, 2013 - Southwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 5 - Motorists should be too: prepare vehicles for winter driving check highway & weather conditions before travel.

ROAD CONDITION/CLOSURE 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 text alerts and/or e-mails about road conditions on our web site (see the green phone icon in the upper right-hand corner).

SOUTHWEST COLORADO –  A winter storm is descending on Colorado and Colorado Department of Transportation maintenance crews are ready for it.

“We are expecting the most accumulation late Thursday and early Friday,” said Vance Kelso, supervisor of the Ridgway Maintenance Area (see locations/patrols, below). “Motorists, including truck drivers, seemed to navigate the winter conditions on our southwest passes just fine during the last storm—we hope to see the same safe driving this time around.”

Kelso adds that this storm will impact the lower elevations more than earlier storms have.

All maintenance crews, specifically on the mountain passes, are on standby for winter storm patrols. This means maintenance patrol crews (see worker numbers below) are out on 24-hour operation—either on rotating 8- or 12-hour shifts—until they reach dry road conditions. <p>The ridge of high pressure over Colorado will flatten over the next two days as a large closed low-pressure system approaches from the southwest. Warm air will continue to move into the state today with increasing amounts of moisture in the upper portion of the atmosphere. Winds will be in the low to moderate range from the west and southwest statewide. Low-level moisture will increase this evening as the closed low moves into California and begins to track across the southwest US. Precipitation, if any, will be limited to the high peaks until Thursday when moist southwest flow moves into the San Juan Mountains. The combination of the closed low and a second system moving in from the north could make for an interesting holiday weekend.</p>

Region 5, Section 3, DURANGO

The entire Durango Maintenance Section (also see individual maintenance areas, below) has 106 maintenance workers and 107 pieces of snow removal and avalanche control equipment. Thirteen trucks are equipped with liquid deicer applicator tanks. Other plow trucks will carry sand/salt for providing traction or, at optimum temperatures, sand pre-wetted with liquid deicer for traction and effective ice-melting. Durango maintenance crews take care of 1,750 lane-miles (the combined lengths of each lane on every highway in the section), including five mountain passes. During last winter (2012-2013), Durango maintenance crews plowed 383,393 total lane-miles. Crews spread 1,165,274 gallons of liquid deicers. They also spread 23,557 tons of sand/salt and spent 1,640 hours on avalanche control missions.  Total dollars spent last winter:  $4,359,253.93.

NOTE: Each Maintenance Area detailed below has special crews that additional work and/or avalanche control missions (in coordination with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center) on four mountain passes:  US 550 Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain passes and SH 145 Lizard Head Pass (US 160 Wolf Creek Pass is maintained by Alamosa crews). Crews from both Maintenance Sections—Durango and Alamosa—assist one another with man-power and equipment during storms, as necessary.

Durango Maintenance Area

The Durango Maintenance Area has 6 patrols, located in: Pagosa Springs (4 plows), Bayfield (3 plows), Ignacio (3 plows), Durango (4 plows), Hesperus (4 plows) and Rockwood (3 plows). The Durango Maintenance Area has 43 maintenance workers and 35 pieces of snow removal and avalanche equipment (including 21 snowplows, 12 of which are equipped with *MDSS). Eleven trucks are equipped with liquid deicer applicator tanks. Other plow trucks carry sand/salt and for providing traction. Durango maintenance crews take care of 510.36 lane-miles. During last winter, Durango maintenance crews plowed 137,701 total lane-miles. As well, crews sprayed 626,898 gallons of liquid deicer, spread 6,938 tons of sand/salt and spent 237 hours on avalanche control missions. Total 2014 Winter Budget (for this current season): $1,559,488.

Cortez Maintenance Area

The Cortez Maintenance Area includes patrols in: Dove Creek (3 plows), Cortez (5 plows), Mancos (4 plows), Dolores (3 plows), Rico (4 plows) and Telluride (3 plows). The Cortez Area has 27 maintenance workers and 37 pieces of snow removal and avalanche equipment (including 22 snowplows, 6 of which are equipped with MDSS). Cortez maintenance crews take care of 650.8 lane-miles. During last winter, Cortez maintenance crews plowed 129,942 total lane-miles. As well, crews sprayed 301,252 gallons of liquid deicer; spread 6,341 tons of sand/salt, and spent 103 hours on avalanche control missions. Total 2014 Budget (for this current season): $1,126,773.

Ridgway Maintenance Area

The Ridgway Maintenance Area includes patrols in:  Cascade (3 plows), Silverton (3 plows), Ouray (3 plows), Ridgway (4 plows), Norwood (2 plows), Nucla (3 plows) and Paradox (1 plow). The Area has 33 maintenance workers and 35 pieces of snow and avalanche removal equipment (including 19 snowplows, 2 of which are equipped with MDSS). One truck is equipped with a liquid deicer applicator tank. Other plow trucks carry sand/salt for providing traction. Ridgway maintenance crews take care of 588.84 lane-miles. During last winter, Ridgway maintenance crews plowed 115,750 total lane-miles. Crews sprayed 237,124 gallons of liquid deicer, spread 10,278 tons of sand/salt and spent 1,299 hours on avalanche control missions. Total 2014 Budget (for this current season): $1,585,194.


  1. Plan your trip! 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. Also, sign up for FREE wireless text and/or e-mail updates on road conditions/closures—see the green phone icon in the upper right-hand corner of our web site home page. Motorists can also log onto the National Weather Service’s site at
  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 (please see information on Colorado’s chain law at
  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.
  10. Always buckle up!