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Snow or shine, a bill would require specialized tires, chains or AWD on I-70 all winter long

Temporary traction laws on Colorado's Interstate 70 could turn into an all-winter-long rule from Morrison to Glenwood Canyon.

COLORADO, USA — A bill floating through the Colorado Legislature would change the temporary traction law to an all-winter-long policy.

HB 19-207 would require drivers to always have winter travel protection, regardless of the weather conditions. That requirement would be enforced on Interstate 70 from September to May.

The law is intended to focus on the area between Morrison and Dotsero.

Currently, when the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) restricts road use due to a winter storm, a person is required to use certain traction-control equipment.

Under the new bill, CDOT would look at the best possible ways to educate the public about the law and how to enforce it, such as through checkpoints. 

The bill:

  • Allows for current technology and traction options.
  • Sets minimum standards for tires.
  • Requires traction equipment to be carried on I-70 between milepost 133 (Dotsero) and milepost 259 (Morrison) from Sept. 1 through May 31 when icy or snow-packed conditions are present.

"This makes it very clear that there is a specific part of I-70 that is under this restriction during winter months," said the bill's sponsor, State Rep. Dylan Roberts (D-Avon).

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According to CDOT, the current traction law was enacted 76 times between the months of October 2018 and December 2018. CDOT said there were 63 spin-outs or slide-offs, along with 167 crashes, during that time.

Colorado State Patrol and CDOT would be responsible for getting the word out about the change since this would be in place in September. State Patrol would issue fines, based on the situation.

"Our priority is to get the road open," said CSP Cpl. Matthew Packard. "If that means that we can most efficiently clear roads off the highway using push bumpers or tow trucks, and move on to the next one, you're right, there's a chance you might just get a stern talking to and a warning about your equipment and not a ticket, and we'll move on to the next one, but again that's a balance."

The bill passed its third reading in the Senate Monday. It will now head back to the House.

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“Anything we can do to improve traffic and improve safety on I-70, particularly in the wintertime, is just one more step toward solving a very troublesome and difficult set of problems,” Sen. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican who is in favor of the bill, told The Colorado Sun

State Sen. Ray Scott, a Grand Junction Republican, voted no on the bill in the past but told the publication he supports it.

“I voted 'no' in the past...because there was no enforcement,” Scott said in his interview. “We’re tough on trucks, we really watch trucks.”

Opponents have said they are concerned the bill would create undue and unfair costs that would burden drivers. 

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