By Matt Kroschel

VAIL, Colo. (CBS4) – On any given day hundreds of tractor-trailers navigate the steep climb on Vail Pass. Often crashes close the stretch of road and the Colorado Department of Transportation wants to help make it safer, but they are running into budget realities.

A plan for adding an additional lane both east and westbound from Vail Pass to Copper Mountain has been made, however it has not been budgeted.

“It can be very slippery, very icy; especially for these big trucks,” truck driver Steve Mayo said. “When we’re carrying very heavy loads we have to slow way down … so having additional room would be a very good thing.”

Vail Pass (credit: CBS)

CDOT says the additional auxiliary lane for slow-moving vehicles will allow the rest of traffic to move by them more smoothly. They believe it will reduce the number of crashes in the area.

“This section of Vail Pass definitely has its challenges, so this has been identified in the area where an additional lane could really help with safety and operations,” Tracy Trulove with CDOT told CBS4’s Matt Kroschel.

CBS4’s Matt Kroschel interviews Tracy Trulove with CDOT (credit: CBS)

The plan was gaining momentum but all of that has halted with the latest budget and a lack of additional funding for road projects in the state.

The price tag would reach into the tens of millions of dollars but CDOT hasn’t received any additional money from lawmakers.

Truck drivers applaud the effort. The Colorado State Patrol agrees that something needs to be done on the stretch of the high mountain pass.

“We’re talking about adding capacity, which is something we don’t often do,” Trulove said. “When there was an original bill going through that had a little bit more money in it was looking more viable. Now we’re having to make sure we’re looking at our scope in a different way.”

That means two narrow lanes with lots of traffic and dangerous conditions will continue.

LINK: I-70 West Vail Pass Auxiliary Lanes Fact Sheet

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

Comments

Leave a Reply