DENVER (KDVR) — August and September are typically busy ones for Denney Transport, trucking fruits and vegetables from southern California into metro Denver.
But the I-70 closure through Glenwood Canyon is forcing major disruptions on the Colorado company.
“Right now, it’s a big challenge and has been for the past month or so,” Erica Denney said. “It puts a big strain on us.”
Watch prices on strawberries, avocados, lettuce
Denney said about 70% of their business involves moving produce like avocados, strawberries and lettuce from Southern California to Denver in their fleet of 125 refrigerated trucks.
Those drivers are now having to detour north through Wyoming, adding about 180 miles and multiple hours onto the trip.
“So that’s additional miles on the truck, that’s additional miles to fuel, that’s additional miles we have to pay our driver — because we pay them per mile — and it really adds up,” she said.
Denney said at a certain point, those extra costs begin getting passed on to consumers. She expects Front Range shoppers will begin to see higher prices for certain produce in the weeks to come.
“You’re already seeing those higher prices,” Greg Fulton with the Colorado Motor Carriers Association said.
I-70 closure impacts trucker hours
Fulton said the state is now asking truckers to avoid Colorado all together, unless they’re picking up or dropping off products here.
Fulton said those drivers are faced with few options to avoid lengthy delays and higher costs.
“Well, it’s more costs for everyone,” he said. “If you’re shipping a product, we’re going to have to charge you more. If you’re the customer at the end, you’re going to be paying more.”
Fulton said the additional miles are also forcing drivers to hit their allotment of allowable hours earlier in their journeys. Truckers can only drive 11 out of 13 hours before needing a 10-hour break, he said.
With current detours, Fulton said it’s essentially impossible to have a driver make it to the Western Slope and back in a single shift.
“Normally, what would happen is we could have a driver go to a destination in western Colorado and be back in the same day, and be within the 11 driving hours. Now, many of these runs, we’re going to have to lay that driver over,” he said.
The Colorado Department of Transportation said there remains no timeline for reopening the closed portion of the interstate.
Denney said it’s critical that te highway reopens soon.
“This is pretty devastating for our industry,” she said. It’s an inconvenience for everyone else, but it’s devastating, it really is.”