DENVER (KDVR) — Despite the public health order to remain at home and the continued pleas of government officials to self-isolate, thousands of individuals are congregating to the same areas – and that means hundreds of vehicles being parked dangerously.
Berthoud and Loveland Passes have seen a high influx of hikers and backcountry skiers recently. When searching for areas to park vehicles or trailers, the public is reminded to do so safely and lawfully.
Backcountry users should park only in clearly marked and designated parking areas. Parking on the side of a highway or mountain pass, with narrow to no shoulders, may put part of your car in live traffic lanes, which is extremely dangerous to you and other motorists.
By blocking roadways, it makes it difficult or even impossible for emergency responders and maintenance crews, including avalanche workers, to do their jobs.
Additionally, Loveland Pass is a designated HAZMAT route, which includes delivery of much needed essential products to help the COVID-19 crisis.
The Colorado Department of Transportation will not close Loveland Pass except as an extreme last resort, due to its importance in the distribution of food, supplies, and commerce; inappropriately parked vehicles can impede maintenance crews and the much-needed supplies being transported.
As a result of these parking safety issues, Colorado State Patrol Troopers and Clear Creek County Sheriff Deputies will be adding extra officers to Berthoud and Loveland Passes to prevent illegal or dangerous parking from happening.
Vehicles that park anywhere other than designated parking areas are subject to citations or being towed. Additional signs will be in place for both parking or no-parking areas; when in doubt, do not park.
“We understand that being isolated is difficult, especially if you have a lot of free time and are so close to the natural beauty that Colorado provides” said Captain Jared Rapp, local Colorado State Patrol Troop Commander. “The problem arises when dozens or even hundreds of vehicles are parked in areas not designed for parking, like on highways or blocking roadways. It’s dangerous in a variety of ways.”
US 40 and US 6 are vital links for commodities to be transported statewide. This means large commercial motor vehicles traveling in areas with tight curves and limited visibility. Therefore, traffic cannot become choked into a single lane due to motorists parking out of designated areas, especially where little or no shoulder exists.
Vehicles parked in these areas may also be trapped with snow as plows go through the area. Not to mention, backcountry users must be aware of avalanche conditions as well as slide path areas along the highway, which are clearly signed, and avoid parking in those slide paths.
Additionally, last weekend, many people were seen walking in the roadway with their backs to traffic; not only improper, but highly dangerous.
“Each contact we need to make with someone who has parked illegally raises the risk of exposure to everyone involved” said Colorado State Patrol Master Sergeant Don Enloe. “Nobody wants to take this home or injure someone else as a result of being in a place they didn’t need to be at in the first place.”
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, residents and visitors are reminded to continue practicing social distancing and not make non necessary trips out, especially around other people. Doing so will not only help the crisis to pass quicker, but will literally help save lives in the process.