The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) begins its annual winter programs over the Thanksgiving holiday to help keep traffic moving and maintain safety along the west Interstate 70 corridor.
Heavy Tow is a program designed to promptly clear large trucks from the highway. Driven Solutions and its sub-contractor, Western Towing & Recovery, provide standby heavy wreckers at strategic locations on I-70 between Ward Road in Wheat Ridge and Dotsero in western Eagle County. Up to five wreckers can be dispatched quickly to move commercial vehicles from traffic lanes to a safe location during weekends and holidays.
The seventh season of Heavy Tow coverage began today at 8 a.m. and continues until 4 p.m. It will resume on Friday, November 29 (no Thanksgiving Day coverage) during the same hours. Weekend operations are scheduled from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Heavy Tow continues each weekend through Sunday, April 27, 2014. Coverage also will be provided on New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 20) and President's Day (Monday, February 17). CDOT may also implement the program at other times due to adverse weather or other circumstances.
"Heavy Tow achieves our primary goal - keeping traffic safely moving along I-70 west," said CDOT Regional Transportation Director Tony DeVito. "Our clearance time when we started the program back in 2008 averaged 27 minutes. Last winter, we dropped our average clearance time to 18 minutes, down from 20 minutes in the 2011 - 2012 season."
Heavy Tow relocated 153 commercial vehicles and cleared 192 lanes over the 2012/2013 season.
Prior to the implementation of Heavy Tow, it took about one hour to reopen a lane blocked by a semi or other large truck.
The National Cooperative Highway Research Program, which researches problem areas affecting highways, estimates a roadway loses 51% of its capacity when one of three lanes are blocked; 65% of capacity when one of two lanes are blocked.
By law, commercial vehicles are required to carry chains for travel on I-70 between Dotsero (mile 133) and the Morrison exit (mile 259) from September 1 to May 31. To help truckers comply, CDOT is implementing its Chain Assistance program for a sixth year. When the chain law is in effect, it allows drivers to purchase chains and chain-up service when approved vendors are present at any one of the 22 chain
stations along I-70 between Glenwood Springs and Denver West Boulevard.* CDOT representatives frequently visit the stations when assistance is taking place, inspecting and assuring quality service is being provided. If necessary, it will begin this weekend and continue, as needed, through the winter.
During the 2012/2013 winter season, 222 sets of chains were sold and 656 were installed.
The Courtesy Patrol program begins on Friday, November 29. Drivers of passenger and other smaller vehicles are provided free roadside assistance for services such as flat tires, fuel or water transfer, jump starts, short-distance towing, accident scene protection and minor mechanical assistance. Pickups and a tow truck patrol I-70 between the top of Floyd Hill and Dotsero, looking for disabled vehicles. Truck personnel also respond to requests from the Colorado State Patrol, local police or the Eisenhower Tunnel.
Courtesy Patrol operates primarily on weekends (Saturdays 6 a.m. to 8 p.m./Sundays 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.), including the holiday weekends of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and President's Day. Following the holidays, patrols will run every weekend through March 30, 2014.
"Even though these programs have been effective at reducing congestion and delay times on the I-70 corridor, we also are reminding drivers to do their part by being prepared and keeping their vehicles ready for winter travel," added DeVito. "It's important to have adequate tire traction, carry an emergency kit with items like water, food, blankets, a shovel and ice scraper and knowing what road conditions to expect."
Road, weather and additional traveler information is available at www.cotrip.org, by calling 511 or via e-mail. For e-mail updates, visit www.coloradodot.info and click on the cell-phone icon in the upper right-hand corner. The link takes you to a list of subscription items, including I-70 West, Denver to Glenwood Springs.
CDOT's smartphone application also provides drivers with easier access to I-70 traveler information. It includes travel speeds and times, road conditions, incidents, road work; and feeds from CDOT's closed-circuit television cameras and alerts. Text CDOT to 25827 or download CDOT Mobile from your App store.