Interstate 70 winter assistance programs start
November 25, 2009
DENVER – The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is beginning three programs over the Thanksgiving holiday to help keep traffic moving and maintain safety along Interstate 70.
Heavy Tow is a program designed to promptly clear large trucks from the highway. American Towing Alliance, Inc. is providing standby heavy wreckers at strategic locations along I-70 this winter. The wreckers can be quickly dispatched to move commercial vehicles from traffic lanes to a safe location during weekends, holidays and other adverse weather days.
The third season of Heavy Tow coverage begins today (Wednesday, November 25) (no Thanksgiving Day coverage) and resumes on Friday (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.), with operations then continuing each weekend through Sunday, April 4. Operations typically run on Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. along westbound I-70, and on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. along eastbound I-70. Other coverage days include New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 18) and President’s Day (February 15). Other inclement weather days may be added as CDOT deems necessary.
“Heavy Tow has allowed us to successfully accomplish one of our primary goals – keeping traffic moving along the I-70 corridor,” says CDOT Regional Transportation Director Tony DeVito. “It used to take almost an hour to reopen a lane blocked by a semi or other large truck. Now, with Heavy Tow, we can get it opened, on average, in 27 minutes.”
Chain Assistance also is available for the second year. The program allows truck drivers to purchase chains and chain-up services along I-70 between Dotsero and Denver West Boulevard. Two companies are currently on CDOT’s approved vendor list to assist drivers of commercial vehicles at any one of 21 chain stations when the chain law is in effect. It begins this week and continues, as needed, through the winter.
Large trucks now have another option for traction control, the AutoSock, a fabric that slips over a vehicle’s outer driving wheels, providing extra traction on snowy and icy roads. It can be installed over the tire in much less time than traditional chains. After an evaluation of its use and effectiveness by CDOT, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and the trucking industry last winter, it was approved as an Alternate Traction Control Device. Truck drivers are permitted to carry AutoSock instead of chains during the I-70 chain law period from September 1 to May 31 between Dotsero and C-470.
The Courtesy Patrol program begins on Friday. Drivers of passenger and other smaller vehicles are provided free roadside assistance for services such as flat tires, fuel or water transfer, jump starts, short-distance towing, accident scene protection and minor mechanical assistance. Three trucks patrol I-70 between the top of Floyd Hill and Silverthorne, looking for disabled vehicles. Truck personnel also respond to requests from the CSP, local police or from the Eisenhower Tunnel.
Courtesy Patrol runs primarily on weekends (Saturdays 6 a.m. to 8 p.m./Sundays 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.), including the holiday weekends of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and President’s Day. Patrols will run every weekend through March 28.
“CDOT has these programs that are designed to keep traffic moving and enhance safety along the busy I-70 corridor but we also want to remind drivers to keep their vehicles ready for winter driving as well,” adds DeVito. “That means having tires with adequate traction, carrying an emergency kit with such items as water, food, blankets, a shovel and ice scraper. Also, you should know what kind of road conditions to expect. It’s better to be over-prepared and stay safe.”
– Road, weather and additional traveler information is available at http://www.cotrip.org or by calling 511.