Drivers still fuming after being stuck on Highway 285 for hours

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BAILEY, Colo. -- Drivers were still fuming Monday night after being stuck on U.S. 285 near Bailey for more than three hours Saturday.

A tow trucking company was busy removing a semitruck after it veered off the highway and down a steep embankment.

The crash happened Wednesday, but it wasn't removed until three days later during the height of ski traffic, when hundreds were returning home from the mountains.

Jay Kurtz had been skiing at Breckenridge. He said he sat in traffic for two hours before giving up and heading back to Fairplay for dinner.

"The middle of the night would have been better, or dawn, or 4 a.m. when there's the lightest traffic," he said.

Vanessa Harroun sat for four hours. She said she watched many people mill about their vehicles. Some had to use the bathroom and began hiking to nearby homes.

"There's very few houses, there's no restaurants, there's nothing," she said.


Both Harroun and Kurtz contacted the FOX31 Problem Solvers wondering why the highway would be shut down on such a busy night and also why drivers weren't given a heads up.

"I tried to navigate to a hotline. Someone that would care hundreds of cars were sitting in the dark both figuratively and literally, but I couldn't get a hold of CDOT in any shape or form," Kurtz said.

Bill Bailey of Bailey Towing said he wanted to remove the truck on Thursday, but the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado State Patrol wouldn't let them.

"They wouldn't let us touch it until the ice was off the highway. At 9 o'clock Thursday, we were up there and CDOT said you can't touch it. It's snowing today. Friday, we went up there and it was still icy," Bailey said.

CDOT can authorize the closure of a major highway, but a spokeswoman said it never thought the work would last several hours.

"It was anticipated to be a 30-minute closure and it ended up being longer," CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford said.


CDOT said it will take a closer look at why the work was performed Saturday night, but said it was likely based on weather forecasts.

It will also review with the Colorado State Patrol why drivers weren't notified or kept informed about what was happening.