7.5-hour Vail Pass closure not accident related, one of several interstate closures occuring Friday and Saturday | VailDaily.com

7.5-hour Vail Pass closure not accident related, one of several interstate closures occuring Friday and Saturday

Cars can be seen backed up on eastbound Interstate 70 on Friday during one of several closures which occurred on Friday and Saturday.
John LaConte/Vail Daily
This story was edited to reflect the total closure time, which started at 6:04 p.m. Friday and continued until 1:36 a.m. Saturday, for a total of 7.5 hours

An extended closure of Vail Pass that occurred on Friday evening and continued until the early morning hours on Saturday was not accident related, according to Colorado State Patrol.

State Patrol Trooper Gabriel Moltrer said the Colorado Department of Transportation called for the closure at 6:04 p.m. Friday at mile marker 180 in East Vail.

“It was just the amount of snow they were getting up there, they wanted to close it down for safety,” Moltrer said. “When it’s a bad snowstorm and they’re not able to get the roads cleaned off, to keep motorists as safe as possible, they’ll close the road.”

The closure began in East Vail but was quickly moved to exit 176 in Main Vail, Moltrer said. Cars were parked along the South Frontage Road for hours, waiting for the road to reopen. The East Vail on-ramp was reopened at 1:36 a.m. Saturday morning, Moltrer said.

The 7.5-hour event was one of a pair of closures on Interstate 70 eastbound to occur in Vail on Friday; earlier in the day a spun-out tractor-trailer on mile marker 182 snarled traffic at about 8:20 a.m., and a closure of the interstate followed at about 9 a.m.

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That closure only lasted about an hour, though, Moltrer said. Colorado State Patrol received several calls to assist local first responders during the day on Friday. And more continued to come in throughout the storm, which didn’t clear out until Saturday morning. Another Vail Pass closure occurred on Saturday morning, this one in the westbound lanes, for multiple vehicles that spun out in the area around mile marker 182.

Moltrer said the interstate closed at mile marker 190 at 7:46 a.m. as a result of that incident. A notification from Eagle County alerts indicated the road was reopened by 9:09 a.m.

Snowfall could return to the area on Monday and Tuesday, creating another round of hazardous driving conditions, the National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office said on Sunday.

In a Winter Storm Watch issued on Sunday, the National Weather Service said heavy snowfall could hit the Gore Range, which includes Vail Pass, beginning in the early morning hours on Monday. Cold temperatures are expected to accompany blowing snow.

“Travel could be very difficult,” the National Weather Service said on Sunday. “Blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility.”

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