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CDOT encourages motorists to prepare vehicles now for winter driving

November 17, 2016 - Northwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 5 - CDOT encourages motorists to prepare vehicles now for winter driving

ROAD CONDITION/CLOSURE INFORMATION: To find the conditions and closures (including camera shots), log onto CDOT’s traveler information site at www.cotrip.org or call 511 from anywhere in the state. Better yet, sign up to receive CDOT Alerts to your email or mobile device (go to www.codot.gov and click the white envelope at the bottom of the page). Watch for periodic winter driving photos on our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @ColoradoDOT.

NORTHWEST COLORADO –Winter weather is expected to hit Northwest Colorado tomorrow after a November of unseasonably warm weather. The National Weather Service is reporting a strong cold front will move across Colorado beginning Thursday morning.  The central and northern mountains are forecasted to receive anywhere from 5-10 inches in the higher elevations and wind gusts from 40-50 mph. Roads forecasted for wet conditions could turn icy with temperatures expected to drop rapidly.

During a winter storm, CDOT maintenance crews are on standby for round-the-clock patrol shifts. Maintenance area crews (see Area and Patrol details, below) are out on 24-hour operation—typically on rotating 12-hour shifts—until they reach dry road conditions. This means that during a storm, at least half the crew members on each patrol are out at any given time, some overlapping their shifts to keep coverage consistent. 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) and Passenger 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.

“We encourage motorists to slow down and drive for the conditions,” said Mike Goolsby, CDOT Maintenance Superintendent for Section 2, “especially when approaching our plow trucks, take it slow and give our plows room to work.” 

“Motorists should check the tread on their tires before heading into winter weather in the event the traction law or passenger vehicle chain law is implemented.,” stated Mark Eike, Maintenance Superintendent for Section 6 in Craig. “Motorists who have taken the time to prepare their vehicles for winter weather will have a much better time navigating the conditions that change so rapidly.”

The following information provides details on each of Section 2’s and Section 6’s Maintenance Area and Patrol locations, personnel and equipment. Note: In addition to the patrol crews listed below, the Maintenance Section also includes special crews dedicated to avalanche mitigation, rest area maintenance, heavy equipment operation and shop maintenance. Our avalanche mitigation crew is in charge of avalanche control missions (in coordination with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center) on six mountain passes:  I-70 Vail Pass, US 6 Loveland Pass, US 40 Berthoud Pass, US 40 Rabbit Ears Pass, CO 82 Independence Pass and CO 65 Grand Mesa.

Additional tips for getting prepared for winter weather travel are noted below.

CDOT Region 3, Maintenance Section 2, Grand Junction

The entire Grand Junction Maintenance Section has 290 maintenance workers and 139 snow plows.  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. Section 2 maintenance crews take care of 4,038 lane-miles (the combined lengths of each lane on every highway in the section). Total Budget $10,777,841.

Grand Junction Maintenance Area

Patrols located in:  Grand Junction, Whitewater, Cedaredge, Gateway, Loma, Mesa, De Beque, Parachute, Grand Junction and the Fruita Rest Area.

Montrose Maintenance Area

Patrols located in: two in Montrose, Lake City, Gunnison, Crested Butte, Blue Mesa, Delta, Crawford/Black Mesa and Paonia.  

Glenwood Springs Maintenance Area

Patrols located in:  Rifle, two in Glenwood Springs, Aspen, Carbondale, plus Rest Area patrols at Rifle, No Name, and Grizzly Creek

I-70 Hanging Lake Tunnel Maintenance Area (MP 125 in Glenwood Canyon)

Crews maintain the tunnel and its control center 24/7, dispatching maintenance patrol crews to highway incidents from I-70 mm 213 to the Utah border on I-70 corridor, and secondary roads from Grand Junction, Montrose, Gunnison and Leadville areas.  

Gypsum Maintenance Area

Patrols are located in:  two patrols in Gypsum, Wolcott, two patrols in Dowd Junction, Leadville and Twin Lakes, Vail Pass; also Bair, Edwards and Hanging Lake rest areas.

Summit County Maintenance

Patrols are located in:  Silverthorne (for I-70 Frisco to east Summit County), Silverthorne (for SH 9 and surrounding, Vail Pass, Loveland Pass and Frisco. This maintenance area also includes the rest area on Vail Pass.

Region 3, Maintenance Section 6, Craig

The entire Craig Maintenance Section has 96 maintenance workers and 64 pieces of snow removal. There are 25 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. Section 6 maintenance crews take care of 1704.435 lane-miles (the combined lengths of each lane on every highway in the section).

West Maintenance Area

The West Maintenance Area includes patrols in: Maybell, Skull Creek, Craig East, Hayden, Steamboat Springs, Yampa , Meeker, Rifle and Rangely. The West Maintenance Area has 44 maintenance workers and 29 pieces of snow removal (including 29 snowplows, all of which are equipped with *MDSS). 12 trucks are equipped with liquid deicer applicator tanks. Other plow trucks carry sand/salt and for providing traction. 10 loaders and 8 graders assist in the snow removal process. West Area maintenance crews take care of 1107.035  lane-miles. Total winter budget: $1,913,214.14.

East Maintenance Area

The East Maintenance Area includes patrols in: Rabbit Ears Pass, Kremmling, Hot Sulphur Springs, Granby , Walden and Berthoud Pass West. The East Maintenance Area has 45 maintenance workers and 28 pieces of snow removal (including 26 snowplows  which are equipped with *MDSS), 2 snow cats, 3 snow blowers, 8 loaders, and 6 graders. 10 trucks are equipped with liquid deicer applicator tanks. Other plow trucks carry sand/salt and for providing traction. East Area maintenance crews take care of 597.4 lane-miles. Total winter budget:  $ 3,071,212.17

*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 deicing to generate road treatment recommendations 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.

WINTER TRAVEL TIPS:

The Colorado Department of Transportation has broad authority to close any portion of a state highway to traffic due to a natural disaster, weather conditions, or any other emergency circumstances resulting in making road conditions unsafe for travel by motor vehicles.  That authority includes closing a road to traffic if adequate tire chains or snow tires are determined to be necessary.

AVOID A FINE!  Motorists should be aware the Traction Law (Code 15) and Passenger 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.

·       The public can view snow plow locations on any device by clicking http://cotrip.org/snowplow.htm#/snowplow  (also see upper right hand corner ofcotrip.org menu).  Using this information, motorists will be able to see plows’ current locations, their travel speed and direction they are traveling. Plows that have not moved for more than 16 minutes will not be visible.

·         Know before you go! Visit CDOT’s traveler information site at www.cotrip.org; sign up for “CDOT Alerts” in your chosen area by going to www.codot.gov and choosing the white envelope at the bottom of the page; log onto CDOT’s Winter Driving web page at:  https://www.codot.gov/travel/winter-driving for road conditions winter driving tips and other information; or for I-70 West Mountain Corridor travel, go here: http://goi70.com/.

·         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.

·         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.

·         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!

SNOW REMOVAL PRODUCTS:

·         Magnesium Chloride:  In solutions that utilize up to 30 percent magnesium 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 Hiring Permanent and Seasonal Snowplow Drivers and Road Maintenance Workers

We are looking to hire both permanent and seasonal full-time and part-time snowplow drivers and road maintenance workers to plow and maintain roads. Positions are available in regions across the state, including the Denver Metro area, the I-70 mountain corridor and other mountain areas, the Front Range, the Western Slope and the Eastern Plains. Target cities include Crook, Idaho Springs, Joe's, La Veta, Leadville, New Raymer, Silverton, Telluride, Vail Pass, Walden, Wolf Creek Pass, Yampa and many others. Interested candidates can view open positions and apply online at http://bit.ly/CDOTcareers.

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