Colorado Department of Transportation officials blame drivers for mountain traffic tie-up

DENVER - The Colorado Department of Transportation is blaming drivers for a traffic tie-up over the weekend that left drivers fuming after being stuck in traffic for hours.

It took some drivers around eight hours to get from Vail to the Denver area Sunday. Just going from Silverthorne to the Eisenhower Tunnel took some over four hours after so many skiers and snowboarders flocked to the mountains.

The department says some drivers had cars with bald tires and big trucks were not using chains on slippery roads, bringing traffic to a near-standstill when vehicles spun out of control.

"On Sunday, February 9, CDOT’s Courtesy Patrol program relocated 22 vehicles on eastbound I-70 between Silverthorne and Eisenhower Tunnel.  Of the 22 vehicles, 19 had bald tires and 18 had in state plates.  The 22 were only a small fraction of the spun out vehicles that needed assistance which contributed to the heavy congestion and delayed commute for motorists last Sunday," CDOT wrote in a report posted Thursday. "Additionally, CDOT’s Heavy Tow program towed 11 commercial vehicles that lost traction on the steep approach to Eisenhower Tunnel, 3 of which did not employ chains as required by law."

The department said in a statement Thursday that those poorly-equipped vehicles caused delays to increase at an "astounding rate", forcing it to close eastbound lanes to clear the highway.

Although they shifted the blame to drivers, CDOT's statement also said it was "working with incident responders and other stakeholders to enhance strategies that allow CDOT to better address conditions like those over the weekend."

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