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How often do semis use runaway truck ramps? And how do they get back down after?

Video shows a semi using one of I-70's runaway truck ramps near Silverthorne the day after a deadly crash involving another semi. So how often are ramps actually used?

DENVER — The ramp a truck driver allegedly passed before causing a fiery crash on I-70 last week has been used nine times since 2016, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

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It’s the only data on runaway truck ramp usage the department was able to provide this week. A spokeswoman for CDOT said the department has 14 runaway truck ramps.

“In 30 years of living here in Colorado, I’ve never seen one used,” said Jesse Terrell.

That was true until he saw a semi glide up a ramp near Silverthorne on Friday, one day after that other crash that happened in Lakewood. Four people were killed and several others injured in that wreck.

Terrell had just driven through the Eisenhower Johnson tunnel when he spotted the truck with smoke pluming from its tires. He was aware of the other crash when he saw this truck driving ahead of him.

“I saw his right signal on, and I just whispered a prayer,” he said.

Video from Terrell shows the truck proceed up a runaway ramp.

“Kudos to that guy because he did a great job of maintaining control,” he said.

RAW VIDEO: Semi forced to use runaway truck ramp near Silverthorne, Colorado

Truck drivers don't reverse down the hill once they're there. They need a tow, and while the state doesn’t fine drivers for using runaway truck ramps, towing companies charge trucking companies to remove the vehicles from the runaway ramps.

“You’re probably going to look in the neighborhood of $2,500,” said Steve Carver, owner of Big Steve’s Towing in Gypsum, which is part of the Colorado State Patrol’s rotation of trucking companies called in to remove the wrecks. Carver is also the mayor of Gypsum.

“Normally you can look at approximately four hours to get it down,” Carver said.

Though it takes longer and could be more expensive, depending on the size of the crash.

“We have had them go up the ramp and out the top and roll over,” Carver said. He said his company has worked for days to remove some crashes, especially if the truck spills its load.

“The ramps have roads beside them and if we can get up those roads, then we will go up the roads, and then work the truck back down to the bottom,” Carver said.

“You are not able to back your wreckers up that rock. You have to work it from the side.”

Though Carver admits, not many trucks use the ramp.

“All winter we’ve probably had two,” he said.


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