CDOT has plans to avoid repeat of weekend nightmare mountain commute

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DENVER — Sitting in weekend mountain traffic on I-70 is commonplace if you live on the Front Range, but CDOT has come up with a few remedies after winter weather lead to massive delays and stoppages this past weekend.

On Sunday, vehicles traveling out of the mountains waited for hours on Eastbound I-70 as first responders cleared multiple accidents and spinouts.

According to CDOT many of the biggest problems were caused by cars that didn’t have enough traction for the conditions.

“We were talking to people today that sat, you know, four or five hours,” said John Broderick, a skier from Colorado Springs. “That’s due to the ignorance of some other people or their inability to have the equipment they need.”

If winter weather collides with ski traffic again this weekend, CDOT has come up with several possible remedies. The department plans to add more plows and more courtesy patrols in the high country. It will also consider closing eastbound 1-70 to commercial vehicles if a public safety emergency is likely.

Officials are also asking drivers to do their part.

“Look at their vehicles and say, ‘What can we do to make sure it’s actually capable of driving in the mountains in those conditions,’” said Amy Ford, spokesperson for CDOT.

One thing drivers can do is invest in chains or other traction devices, such as AutoSock and others, if they have a vehicle that lacks a bit of traction.

CDOT now plans to offer the devices for sale at some chain stations and interstate ramps if the weather gets ugly again. That’s because patrols noticed how effective they were on some of the vehicles that were stuck this weekend.

“We were able to slip one of these traction devices on just one wheel and we were able to clear it in about three minutes,” Ford said.

Offering traction devices is one idea Broderick welcomes.

“I think anything they could do like that would help because a lot of people just aren’t prepared for what can come in to Colorado,” Broderick said.

AutoSock and other devices often cost around $80 or so. Reviewers say they are easier to use than chains but not as durable for repeated use.

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