CDOT: Slow to ramp up yesterday, storm makes itself known today – numerous road closures continue due to adverse conditions

Update on the westbound I-70 closure at De Beque, 1:10 p.m., March 15: Westbound I-70 continues to be closed in De Beque Canyon at Exit 62, due to the hazmat crash yesterday. There is no estimated time of reopening and staging for all wide loads continues to be at Exit 62. 

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) continues to ask that motorists avoid traveling west along this section of I-70 due to limited detour options. Westbound motorists have the option of detouring around the closure by taking Exit 62, and traveling west on Mesa County 45 ½ Road to Colorado Highway 65. Once at CO 65, motorists can travel north back to I-70 westbound.

There are still icy, snow-packed sections of CO 13, US 40 and CO 139, so CDOT does not recommend that route as a detour.

Please note: At this time there is an I-70 westbound closure at Debeque (Exit 62), between Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs, due to a hazardous materials spill. This extended closure has no estimated time of reopening. Westbound I-70 extended closure at De Beque will likely stay closed overnight. CDOT asks that motorists avoid traveling west along this section of I-70, due to limited detour options and deteriorating driving conditions. Motorists need to check COtrip.org BEFORE traveling, for the latest updates. 

STATEWIDE — The Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol are urging the public to stay off the highways and interstates as conditions throughout Colorado continue to worsen with the arrival of the March spring snow storm. 

Motorists should keep a close watch on the weather and road conditions and plan to stay off the roads during the storm. Return travel from the mountains into Denver will be extremely challenging on Sunday for those who visited the high country. Motorists should make arrangements to postpone travel until Monday when the storm has passed and conditions improve.  

“While the storm took some time to pick up yesterday, it is much more intense today — and just as it arrived a little later than anticipated, it will be with us for longer than originally expected, through today and tonight,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “We ask motorists not to let their guard down; today’s conditions are worse than yesterday.”

“We saw great partnership from the public as this storm slowly moved in yesterday,” said State Patrol Chief Matthew Packard. “Now we need people’s continued help and cooperation to keep everyone safe—stay home if you can and limit travel for only essential or emergency needs.”

Many road closures are currently in place and more closures are expected as the storm intensifies through the day Sunday and into the night. Motorists should check COtrip.org for up-to-date conditions and closure information. Heavy accumulations of snow, snow packed and icy roads, and low visibility will continue well into the evening along I-70, I-25 and other highway corridors in the foothills and the Front Range. 

Motorists are encouraged NOT to seek alternate routes to circumvent road closures, but rather stay put or turn back and find a safe place to wait out the storm. If a highway safety closure is in place, that means the alternate routes could be impassable.  

“Yesterday, we saw much of the initial snow melt because of relatively warm air and surface temperatures; today, as the storm ramps up, much more is sticking to the roads,” said CDOT Maintenance and Operations Director John Lorme. “That means difficult driving conditions with poor visibility during parts of the day. This will get worse in the evening when it’s colder and darker. If you went to the mountains this weekend, please don’t plan to drive home tonight.”

Drivers of both passenger cars and commercial trucks are reminded of the importance of complying with chain and traction law requirements. Passenger vehicles should not attempt to traverse roads without snow tires. Commercial trucks must carry chains.

Here is what motorists need to know:

  • AVOID traveling on impacted roads during the storm, throughout the Denver Metro area, on the I-70 Mountain Corridor and I-25 South Gap construction zone between Castle Rock and Monument.  CDOT is likely to close these roadways for safety reasons depending on the severity of the storm.
  • It is also possible I-70 east of Airpark Road and other roadways in the Eastern Plains may close depending on the severity of the storm. 
  • CDOT crews are out in force and plowing roads, focusing on clearing the primary routes such as I-25, I-70 and impacted interstates. Plows will make multiple passes on these roads during the storm and will not be able to address the secondary routes until the worst of the storm has passed. This means many roadways could be heavily snow packed–making for hazardous driving conditions.
  • During a significant and high impact snow storm, travel should be limited to emergency and essential reasons only with the proper vehicle and tires for heavy snow. DO NOT ATTEMPT to drive in severe weather conditions unless you have the appropriate tires with good tread. If you are out in the storm, have an emergency kit with blankets, food, batteries, water, a shovel and survival supplies should you get stuck or stranded.  
  • It’s best to STAY OFF THE ROADS DURING A HEAVY SNOW EVENT.
  • Bow to the plow! Motorists should leave ample distance behind the vehicle ahead and NOT PASS PLOWS. 
  • For more information on preparing for the snow, chain and traction laws and other winter storm related guidance, go to winter.codot.gov.

Stay Informed 

Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” Gather information about weather forecasts and anticipated travel impacts and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include:

About Winter Wise
CDOT’s Winter Wise campaign focuses on education, tools and resources to help keep drivers safe on Colorado’s winter roads. To learn more and view helpful tips for winter driving, visit winter.codot.gov. For specific information about I-70 and other highway travel conditions, motorists can call 511 or check COtrip.org. Additionally, drivers can check Twitter for up-to-date travel information via @ColoradoDOT. For more detailed information about the Traction and Passenger Vehicle Safety Laws, snowplow laws, safety stats and frequently asked questions, visit winter.codot.gov.  

CDOT: Slow to ramp up yesterday, storm makes itself known today – numerous road closures continue due to adverse conditions