CDOT Encourages Denver Metro Motorists to Prepare Vehicles for Winter Driving

November 6, 2015 - Denver Metro/CDOT Region 1 - Check Highway & Weather Conditions Before Travel.

ROAD CONDITION/CLOSURE INFORMATION: To find roadway conditions and closures, log onto CDOT’s 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 website,

DENVER – As winter fast approaches, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) maintenance crews are on standby for winter snow shift. When a storm event is predicted, maintenance crews begin a 24-hour operation—rotating 12-hour shifts—until they reach dry road conditions. And, when warranted, avalanche control crews are working together with CAIC forecasters to trigger avalanches before they can run naturally.

Motorists should be aware the Traction Law (Code 15) andPassenger Vehicle Chain Law (Code 16) could be implemented if conditions require it.  When either law is in effect, highway signage will be activated.

  • Traction Law  Motorists will need snow tires, tires with mud/snow (M/S) designation, or a four-wheel drive vehicle — all tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread.
  • Passenger Vehicle Chain Law  Every vehicle on the roadway must have chains or an alternative traction device (like AutoSock).

Without proper equipment, you can be fined $130. If your vehicle blocks the roadway, you could be fined more than $650.

“Our maintenance crews in the Denver metro area and along the I-70 mountain corridor are focused on one thing—clear and safe roadways for motorists,” said Mike O’Neill, CDOT Region 1 Deputy Director of Maintenance. “We’re doing our part and we ask motorists to do theirs by giving our plows room and right of way, ensuring that their car is properly winterized with adequate tread or snow tires and also driving at the appropriate speed for weather conditions.” 

CDOT Region 1 consists of Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Gilpin and Jefferson Counties. Region 1 maintenance has 321 maintenance workers, 202 pieces of snow removal equipment and takes care of 5,880 lane-miles (the combined lengths of each lane on every highway in the region). The total CDOT Region 1 snow removal budget for winter 2015/2016 is $21 million. In addition to the patrol crews listed below, Region 1 maintenance also includes special crews dedicated to rest area maintenance, heavy equipment operation and shop maintenance. Additional tips for getting prepared for winter weather travel are noted below.

Lincoln Area
The Lincoln Maintenance Area has seven patrols covering Castle Rock (12 plows total and 1 semi-tanker), Franktown (7 plows), Caley/Greenwood Village (5 plows), Cherry Creek (10 plows total) and Sedalia (4 plows). The Lincoln Maintenance Area has 53 maintenance workers and 39 pieces of snow removal equipment, 16 of which are equipped with MDSS. Lincoln area maintenance crews take care of 1,254 lane-miles.

John Area
The John Maintenance Area has six patrols covering Soda Lake (6 plows), Littleton (6 plows), Golden (3 plows), Wadsworth (7 plows total), Blakeland (5 plows) and 11th Avenue (6 plows). The John Maintenance Area has 50 maintenance workers and 35 pieces of snow removal equipment, 11 of which are equipped with MDSS*. John Area maintenance crews take care of 1,040 lane-miles. The crews also plow 25 miles of bike path after each snow event for bicyclist and pedestrians.  

Mary Area
The Mary Maintenance Area has seven patrols covering Golden (8 plows), Thornton (5 plows), Arvada (13 plows total) and Broomfield (6 plows). The Mary Area has 49 maintenance workers and 32 pieces of snow removal equipment and one semi-tanker, 24 of which are equipped with MDSS*.  Mary Area maintenance crews take care of 1,096 lane-miles.

King Area
The King Maintenance Area has seven patrols covering Strasburg (7 plows), Aurora (6 plows), Thornton (6 plows), Commerce City (4 plows), Brighton (5 plows) and Broomfield (5 plows) The King Area has 51 maintenance workers and 34 pieces of snow removal equipment, 11 of which are equipped with MDSS*. King Area maintenance crews take care of 1,633 lane-miles.  

Paul Area, including the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels (EJMT)
The Paul Maintenance Area includes patrols in Morrison (4 plows), Kittredge (3 plows), Coal Creek (2 plows), Golden (9 plows), Black Hawk (4 plows), Hidden Valley (7 plows), Berthoud Pass East (3 plows) and Empire (7 plows). The Paul Area has 53 maintenance workers and 56 pieces of snow removal, including including 39 snowplows. Eighteen trucks are equipped with liquid de-icer 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. Paul Area maintenance crews take care of 832 lane-miles. The EJMT has 27 maintenance workers and 6 pieces of snow removal equipment.

Sam Area
The Sam Maintenance Area has seven patrols who contribute an additional 38 personnel that perform snow removal operations in support of the maintenance areas listed above.  

*Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS), installed on many CDOT plow trucks throughout the state, combines advanced weather and road condition prediction and rules of practice for anti-icing and de-icing to generate road treatmentrecommendations on a route-by-route basis. The goal of MDSS is to provide more effective use of maintenance resources in order to increase safety, reliability and mobility on roadways. The MDSS system allows CDOT crews to input real-time conditions, including road and ambient temperature, type of snow removal products being used and the application rate. After comparing the information to 15 weather reports, the system will then provide suggested treatments based on the information and models. The system may tell the operator to re-treat the road at a later time, apply different products at different rates or even to continue current procedures. The suggested treatment can then be followed or the operator can override the system.


  • Log on to CDOT’s Winter Driving web page at: for road conditions winter driving tips and other information; or for I-70 West Mountain Corridor travel, go here:
  • Be sure you have good snow tires. How do you know if you need new snow tires? Insert a quarter into the tire tread upside down, with Washington’s head going in first; if the top of George’s head is covered by the tread, your tires are OK (do this test in multiple points around each tire.) If the top of his head is visible at any point, you need new tires.
  • 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.
  • If you are stuck in a serious storm do not leave your car. Run the engine periodically and wait for help.
  • 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 deicer.
  • 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.
  • Know the chain laws. Chain restrictions in Colorado are most often put into effect for commercial vehicles (semi-trailer trucks) and do not usually affect passenger vehicles.
  • Drive for the conditions. 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.
  • In addition to these winter driving tips, CDOT reminds all motorists to respect winter weather, conduct a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle, and leave extra space between your automobile and others on the road (including plow trucks). Of course, always buckle up!


Magnesium Chloride:  In solutions that utilize up to 30 percentmagnesium chloride, this product is effective for pavement surface temperatures down to 16 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cold Temperature Modified Magnesium Chloride:  In solutions that utilize up to 27 percent magnesium chloride, this product is used when surface temperatures fall below approximately 15 degrees Fahrenheit. These products have a corn-processed byproduct additive that greatly lowers the freezing point of magnesium chloride.

Ice Slicer:  This is a solid product made up of mainly sodium chloride; it also contains small amounts of other materials making it more effective at lower temperatures than pure sodium chloride.


CDOT continuously hires maintenance personnel year-round to join the dedicated women and men who tirelessly work to maintain Colorado roadways. CDOT maintenance workers enjoy paid vacation and sick leave, medical and dental plans, life insurance, choice of retirement plans, training, work-life programs and tuition reimbursement. Commercial driver’s license and heavy equipment operation experience is required. Find out more online at