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Blizzard conditions on the eastern plains leave truckers stranded, with no other options

Every major road in the entirety of northeastern Colorado was closed Tuesday. Every single one.

Every major road in the entirety of northeastern Colorado was closed Tuesday. It hardly snowed in Denver, but the blizzard out east shut everything down. 

As the roads stayed closed, truck drivers had no choice but to stay at truck stops and wait for the interstates to reopen. 

"Sitting here, I’m not really making money," said Thomas Mack, a truck driver who stopped at a gas station in Hudson, Colorado. "If I can keep the truck moving, that’s how I can keep making the money."

The truck stop off I-76 near Hudson was full. And yet, no one wanted to be there. Waiting for hours in the parking lot of a Carl's Junior wasn’t Isaac Kocho’s plan.

"If you get delayed that really sets your schedule back," Kocho said. "Time is of the essence. When there are backups and delays and road closures, it really does set us back."

I-70 and I-76 were both closed for more than a hundred miles. So was nearly every other road between Denver and Kansas. The way Colorado is built, there are no other major interstates that conveniently connect Denver to the rest of the country to the east and west.

Credit: KUSA

We saw this play out on a bigger scale back in the summers of 2020 and 2021, when Glenwood Canyon closed down for weeks after a fire and floods in the area. The alternate route for truckers then was to drive all the way up north into Wyoming. 

There are very few convenient detours when any major interstate shuts down in Colorado.

"You’ve pretty much got I-70, 25, and 76. There’s probably back ways in that I don’t know about, but those roads are going to be closed longer than what the interstates will be," Mack said. 

The Colorado Motor Carriers Association told 9NEWS a “substantial” amount of money is lost by trucks waiting at road closures. It could take days to make up for the lost time, especially around the holidays, when shipping companies are already stressed.

When there aren’t any alternate routes, waiting and obeying the signs is the only option.

"The safest thing to do is just to wait and not take any chances or risks because it could get catastrophic," Kocho said. "It all comes down to mother nature."

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