Travel Center

Chain Up Tips for Commercial Vehicles

All commercial vehicles traveling on I-70 between milepost 133 (Dotsero exit) and milepost 259 (Morrison exit) must carry sufficient chains to be in compliance with the Colorado chain law. The law requires commercial vehicles to carry chains on this segment of I-70 from September 1st to May 31st each year.

Why is the Chain Law Necessary?
Chains help commercial vehicles traverse the steep climbs often present in the high county.  Without chains, vehicles often become disabled, causing traffic delays and sometimes road closures.  For the safety of the traveling public, it is critical to utilize chains to be in compliance with Colorado’s chain law.

What About Passenger Vehicles & Smaller Commercial Vehicles?
A chain law restriction for vehicles weighing less than 26,001 lbs. including passenger vehicles, crossovers, SUVs, and small trucks can be put into effect in Colorado at any time when weather conditions are severe, primarily on roadways with significant ascending and descending grades.

Stay Informed
The chain law can go in effect at anytime September 1 through May 31.  To stay informed about road conditions, road closures and the chain law, sign up for our e-mail and text message alerts

When the chain law is in effect, drivers will be notified by the following means: electronic message signs; 511 traveler information; www.cotrip.org; and media outlets.

Printable version of Chain Up Tips for Commercial Vehicles (pdf)

Definitions

Under the Colorado chain law, a commercial vehicle is defined as being used in commerce to transport passengers or property and fitting into on of the following categories:

  • Has a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 or more lbs. inclusive of a
    towed unit which has a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 lbs.
    -or- 
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more lbs.
    -or- 
  • Is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
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Carrying Chains on I-70

Commercial vehicles operating on I-70 in either direction between mileposts 133 (Dotsero) and 259 (Morrison) from September 1 to May 31 must carry sufficient chains at all times to be in compliance with the Colorado chain law.

Chaining Up
Metal chains must consist of two circular metal loops, one on each side of the tire, connected by not less than nine evenly-spaced chain loops across the tread.  Commercial vehicles that have four or more drive wheels must chain four wheels.  Dual tire chains are acceptable.

Alternate Traction Devices (ATDs)
Approved ATDs in Colorado are wheel sanders, which carry enough sand to get the vehicle through the restricted area; pnuematically driven chains, which spin under the drive wheels automatically as traction is lost; and textile traction device (TTD), a fabric boot which encompasses the tire.  Currently, the only TTD that has been approved for use on Colorado state highways is the AutoSock. TM

Tire Cables
With only two exceptions, Colorado chain law rules do not permit tire cables as alternate traction devices.  The exceptions are: 1) tire cables with high strength steel cross member rollers 0.415" or greater in diameter, which can be used on all commercial vehicles except single drive axle combinations; and 2) on a tandem power drive axle commercial vehicle, where any type of cable can be used only if there are chains on the two outside tires of one of the power drive axles and cables on two or more tires of the other power drive axle.

Station Locations
I-70 Eastbound: Mileposts 178, 183, 184 (shoulder), 187 (shoulder), 195, 203 (scenic area), 205, 219, 228, 241, 251, 289, 343
I-70 Westbound: Mileposts 358, 263, 260, 254 (Buffalo Overlook), 228, 223, 221, 219, 213, 197, 179 
I-25 Northbound: Milepost 157
I-25 Southbound: Milepost 172

Chain Law Levels

Chain Law Level 1 / Code 17:
All single drive axle combination commercial vehicles must chain all four drive wheels; cables are not permitted as ATDs. All other commercial vehicles must have snow tires or chains. Level 1/Code 17 may be implemented any time there is snow covering any part of the traveled portion of pavement on an ascending grade.

Chain Law Level 2 / Code 18:
All commercial vehicles must chain up. Single drive axle combination and tandem drive axle commercial vehicles must chain four drive wheels. Autotransports must comply to the extent possible without causing damage to hydraulic lines. Buses must chain two drive wheels to comply. Level 2/Code 18 may be implemented any time there is snow covering the entire traveled portion of pavement on an ascending grade, or when driving conditions dictate that this level is necessary to protect safety and to minimize road closures.

Violations

The fine for not carrying chains on I-70 between mileposts 133 and 259 from September 1 to May 31 is $50 plus a $17 surcharge.  Statewide, the fine for not chaining up when the chain law is in effect is $500 plus a $79 surcharge.  The fine for not chaining up and subsequently blocking the highway is $1,000 plus a $157 surcharge.

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