Any winter drive on I-70 between Denver past Vail can be challenging, especially because of all the hills, so the state highway department continues to find ways to make the trip easier.
One of the biggest problems along Colorado's primary ski and snowboard corridor has been vehicles that don't get enough traction to make it up the inclines and have to stop. Often that clogs traffic behind then, and everyone has to wait until the vehicle to get to the side of the highway.
This winter, all motorists from Evergreen to Dotsero will be required to beef up their tires so that they have a better shot at climbing to Vail Pass and Eisenhower Tunnel when the weather gets bad – and avoid a fine for not complying.
Essentially, all passenger vehicles are required to have at least 3/16 of an inch of tread on all their tires before beginning the ascent into the mountains from either direction on I-70. In lieu of better tires, the Colorado Department of Transportation will permit traditional chains or alternative traction devices like AutoSock or cable chains.
If a motorist doesn't comply, he or she will be subject to a $132 fine. If he or she has blocked traffic along the interstate, the fine jumps to as much as $650.
In recent winter seasons when the weather is nasty, the Colorado State Patrol has collected cohorts of vehicles in the Silverthorne-Dillon area and escorted them over Eisenhower Pass so that uphill speeds are maintained or sif a mishap occurs, help can be brought up quickly.
These programs are two of a number of efforts the state has made to ease the flow of traffic up the high country, including adding high-occupancy vehicle lanes, increasing public transport from Denver and encouraging car-pooling.