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Ice & Snow - Take It Slow!

January 21, 2011 - Northwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 3 - Variable temperatures during this milder storm can mean icy conditions for travelers – motorists reminded to have snow tires, stay aware and slow way down, especially on bridges.

GET ROAD CONDITION INFORMATION – SIGN UP TODAY! To find the conditions and closures, log onto our traveler information site at www.cotrip.org or call 511 from anywhere in the state. Better yet, sign up to receive wireless alerts and/or e-mails about road conditions on our web site.

NORTHWEST/NORTH-CENTRAL COLORADO – A relatively milder winter storm moves into Colorado’s high country, this one still promising very low temperatures and wind—the kind of conditions that can translate into icy roads (particularly on highway ramps, overpasses and bridges). As temperatures drop to single digits during the evening, motorists will experience some icy roadways through the night and during their morning commutes to work or to their high-country activities. The Colorado Department of Transportation reminds motorist to stay alert and be prepared.

“Even with these lighter storms, the roads can be slick—particularly on any elevated portion of highway,” CDOT Region 3 Maintenance Superintendent (Craig Section) Les Anderson said. “Avoid accidents by having those snow tires on, and maintaining a very generous following distance so you have plenty of time to react on icy and snow-packed roads.”

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) reports that “continued wind-loading will keep the avalanche danger elevated. Natural avalanche activity will continue in wind-loaded areas, and human triggered avalanches remain likely and are becoming increasingly high consequence. Potential avalanches are growing deeper, wider, and will run farther.” The high-country in Routt County is currently rated by the CAIC as “considerable.” (Please go to http://avalanche.state.co.us/index.php for additional information, forecasts and hazard areas.)

When a storm moves in, CDOT maintenance crews begin operating on winter storm patrols. This means maintenance area crews (see worker numbers below) are out on 24-hour operation—or half the crews out at one time, on 12-hour shifts—until they reach dry road conditions. The following information details the 2009-2010 winter maintenance efforts throughout the Craig Maintenance Section.

CRAIG MAINTENANCE SECTION:

MAINTENANCE OPERATIONS FOR THE PAST (2009-10) WINTER SEASON

The Craig Maintenance Section includes six counties: Moffat, Routt, Jackson, Grand, Rio Blanco, and part of Garfield. The Section is broken into two separate Maintenance Areas (in Craig and in Kremmling), and each area’s patrols (detailed below).

Craig Maintenance Area

The Craig Maintenance Area includes patrols in:  Skull Creek, Maybell, Craig, Rangely, Rifle, Meeker, Hayden, Steamboat Springs, and Yampa. The Craig Area has 45 full-time maintenance workers, 1 winter part-time worker, and 3 winter temporary positions. For winter operations, 27 sander units, 3 sander/deicer units, 5 straight deicer units, 6 motor-graders and 10 loaders are prepared for use.

The Craig area maintains 942 lane miles (lane miles measure the total length of all lanes on a highway). For the 2009-10 winter season, crews plowed 272,109 total lane miles, sprayed 141,760 gallons of liquid deicers and spread 11,838 tons of sand/salt products on the roadways. They expended more than 67 hours of ice control and 1,844 hours of specialized snow removal with heavy equipment.

Kremmling Maintenance Area

The Kremmling Maintenance Area includes patrols in:  Walden, Rabbit Ears Pass, Granby, Hot Sulphur Springs and Kremmling. The Area has 31 full-time maintenance workers, 6 winter part-time employees, and 7 winter temporary positions. For winter maintenance, 19 sander units, 3 liquid deicer units, 7 loaders, 5 motor-graders, 2 dozers and 3 snow-blowers are prepared for use.

The Kremmling Area maintains 680 lane miles. For the 2009-10 winter season, crews plowed 233,198 total lane miles, sprayed 49,495 gallons of liquid deicer, and spread 14,380.5 tons of sand/salt products. They expended more than 71 hours of ice control and 4,805 hours of specialized snow removal with heavy equipment.

WINTER TRAVEL TIPS:

  1. Log on to CDOT’s Winter Driving web page at: http://www.coloradodot.info/travel/winter-driving for tips, road conditions, information on CDOT’s 14-hour snow plow coverage and more; or call 511 for statewide road conditions.
  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.
  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. Of course, always buckle up!