Rock Slides, Snow Storms and Poor Parking
More Snow, Traffic Delays This Week
It’s a Good Morning from America’s highest city as traffic and weather dominate the news for a Monday morning. Snow, snow, and more snow is in the local forecast for the upcoming week. The weekend reports for accumulation in Lake County range anywhere from 8 inches to well over a foot. But it was the wind that dominated Leadville weather conversations, providing a steady southernly flow with strong gusts of up to 40 mph, making it not as enjoyable as it could be for outside chores and activities.
Forecasters predict the region will see more blustery conditions, especially noted today with a wind warning kicking off the week. These conditions tend to create unstable drifts especially in the backcountry. Users are strongly encouraged to check with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center for the most accurate up-to-date conditions.
Of course, traveling by vehicles will have its own share of challenges this week, keeping Colorado Department of Transportation crews busy. Close to home, the week kicked off with the following travel alert for the Lake County region:
TRAVEL ALERT | I-70 Vail Pass
Motorists should plan for SAFETY CLOSURES on #I70 #VailPass tomorrow, Monday 2/8, to allow #CDOT to conduct winter maintenance operations. Closures are likely to take place after 9:30 a.m. and could last throughout the day. During winter maintenance operations, I-70 will be closed between Mile Points 180 and 190, on either side of a section of I-70 known as the Narrows. Motorists should expect eastbound and westbound delays during and after the closures take place. Up-to-the-minute updates will be posted throughout the day on COtrip.org
Last week, CDOT’s big road story happened in southern Colorado which has been seeing a bigger percent of moisture this winter. On Friday, Feb. 5 a rockfall occurred in the early hours of the morning, on CO Highway 145 in southwest Colorado, about 45 miles south of Telluride. No vehicles were involved in the rockfall.
Initial blasting operations occurred last Friday. Much of the blasted rubble was pushed aside, but a portion of the 200-ton boulder remains on the roadway and additional blasting must be performed today.
Motorists should give themselves extra time if traveling on CO Highway 145 between Dolores and Rico tomorrow, Mon., Feb 8. Crews will perform blasting operations beginning at approximately 10 a.m., which will result in a 30-minute to 1-hour traffic stop. Before and after the blasting, travelers will continue to encounter brief delays. Road conditions and travel information: www.COtrip.org
ChalkMountain Area Traffic Concerns
Commuters along Highway 91 north of Leadville Today have been taking to the social media platforms to express their ongoing safety concerns surrounding the parking area used to accesses the Chalk Mountain backcountry area.
Megan Crystal posted: “At mile marker 8 on hwy91, there are many cars parked along the highway, forcing drivers going south to drive in the oncoming lane. What is up with that? If you can’t park in the lot there, due to the snow, that does not mean park where it’s unsafe for drivers and yourself.”
The discussion ignited a bit of conversation, but it’s an old one that resurrects itself after every heavy snow event, which not only complicates the parking arrangement in the area but also increases the use as skiers and snowmobiles clammer to get in a day of freshies!
Dan Joe Pfluger responded: “Chalk Mountain area.. I almost witnessed an accident there driving back from Summit today. A minivan came up hot, passing me and the car in front of me but the car in front of me damn near took out the minivan after swerving out to avoid that shit show. Was a close one! ”
Earlier in the season the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol teamed up for a messaging campaign to address this exact concern: unsafe parking situation at backcountry access areas. The Chalk Mountain parking lot off Highway 91 a few miles south of Fremont Pass has been identified as one of the hotspots.
It’s a straight-up WATCH WHERE YOU PARK! Message from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) asking vehicle owners take care when parking before recreating outdoors. Poorly parked vehicles prevent CDOT maintenance workers from safely clearing roads of snow and ice, and present safety hazards for motorists or commercial traffic on nearby roadways.
Anyone leaving a vehicle unattended on the side of the road runs the risk of breaking the law, being fined and having their vehicle towed away by law enforcement. Vehicle owners are urged to take heed of “no parking” signs. Parking areas need to be kept open with no vehicles or trailers so that plows and heavy equipment can be turned around safely by maintenance personnel. 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, designated parking areas. While some areas along the highway may appear to provide ample room to park, CDOT warns vehicle owners that they run the risk of being trapped with large snow piles pushed by plows. Vehicles left on the side of the road also make plowing operations difficult for road maintenance crews.
Looking Down The Road A Bit
Public Input Begins for Vail Pass Rest Area
To better serve customers, the Colorado Department of Transportation is in the design phase of the Vail Pass Rest Area Replacement Project. The Interstate 70 Vail Pass Rest Area serves a growing number of motorists, commercial operators, recreationalists, and local travelers. After years of heavy use, the Vail Pass Rest Area facility is inadequate and no longer meets the needs of its users.
The purpose of the project is to increase restroom user capacity, update the existing drinking water treatment system, increase parking capacity for all users, improve traffic circulation, accessibility, and safety. Improvements will include better connectivity with nearby popular recreation opportunities.
CDOT invites the public to view and submit feedback on the proposed alternatives and review process. Please see further below for background information and goals for the project.
- WHAT: Virtual public engagement period gathering feedback and questions.
A PDF presentation of the proposed alternatives and review process of the Vail Pass Rest Area Replacement Project is available for viewing. Comments and questions can be submitted via survey. Additional options for submitting feedback are detailed below.
- WHEN: Comments will be received until Saturday, February 20, 2021.
- WHERE: Virtual public engagement page on the Vail Pass Replacement Rest Area website.
Due to current limitations on public events during the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), CDOT is providing virtual opportunities for public engagement. Information about this study is shared and updated on the Vail Pass Rest Area Replacement Project website (click here to view). Virtual public engagement includes, but is not exclusive to, the following process:
All methods of communication will alert the public and stakeholders to the opportunity to review the replacement project and how to submit feedback. CDOT will document, record and review comments. Comments will be considered in the final design. CDOT encourages public input on all projects. In addition to the survey, feedback can be submitted by email and phone to Team Representative Hope Wright at email@example.com and 720-237-6173. Members of the public without internet access can request a copy of the presentation by calling 720-237-6173.
About the Vail Pass Rest Area Project
Rest areas are an important asset to the traveling public and have a direct impact on the economic vitality of our state. At the direction of the Colorado Transportation Commission, a statewide rest area study was completed in 2016 to establish a framework to assess and identify rest areas that were in need of improvements. In January 2019, the rest areas were assigned a letter grade based on a set of criteria and the Vail Pass Rest Area was determined to need significant repair.
PROJECT PURPOSE & NEED
The purpose of the Vail Pass Rest Area Replacement Project is to improve the existing rest area facilities to increase restroom user capacity, update the existing drinking water treatment system in accordance with health department criteria, increase parking capacity for all users and improve traffic circulation, accessibility, safety and connectivity at the site. Connectivity will include better access to winter groomed trails and the Vail Pass recreation path. Project improvements will also address winter maintenance operational issues and increase capacity for maintenance equipment storage and snow storage on site.
More information is available at:
- Vail Pass Rest Area Replacement Project website:
- Virtual engagement page on the project website:
- Via stakeholder updates, which can be requested by contacting:
- Hope Wright, Team Representative
- Hope Wright, Team Representative