Feb 1, 2024 - News

Colorado targets truckers to reduce I-70 winter traffic jams

A crash on westbound Interstate 70 on March 3, 2019 in Silverthorne. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post via Getty Images

A March 2019 crash on westbound Interstate 70 in Silverthorne. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

In the winter, Interstate 70 through Colorado's mountains easily becomes a parking lot, as it did over the most recent Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

State of play: Too often the culprit for delays or even closures are trucks and cars that speed along slippery roads without the proper traction devices required by law.

  • "A lot of the wrecks that we've seen over the last few winters have been a direct result of semis speeding in the left lane trying to pass other cars," Sen. Dylan Roberts, a Frisco Democrat and bill sponsor told the Colorado Sun. "That's a completely avoidable accident."

What's happening: Colorado officials are sick of it. A bipartisan bill under consideration at the state Capitol proposes four solutions to help prevent traffic jams along the important commercial thoroughfare:

  1. Make it illegal for commercial vehicles to drive in the left passing lane of I-70 between Morrison and Glenwood Springs.
  2. Extend requirements for traction devices, such as chains for trucks or all-wheel drive for passenger cars, to any federal or state highway west of Interstate 25.
  3. Lower speed limits and double fines for semi-trucks speeding through certain narrow zones of Glenwood Canyon.
  4. Allow port of entry officers to enforce the state's winter traction law.

Yes, but: There's a major loophole in the bill that allows commercial vehicles to travel in the left lane if they are passing a vehicle traveling below the speed limit, which is frequent on mountain passes.

The other side: Still, the organization that represents the state's commercial trucking industry is not happy with the bill because of the onerous requirements.

  • "We need to have a greater level of study or analysis on this before taking that action," the Colorado Motor Carriers Association's Greg Fulton told the Sun.

ICYMI: Take a traffic break at these 9 coffee stops along I-70

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