Blizzard causes congestion in Vail Valley |

Blizzard causes congestion in Vail Valley

Dustin Racioppi
Vail, CO Colorado
Travis Young/Special to the DailyMike Hardaker snowboards on the hillside while he was car is stuck in a traffic jam during the blizzard in the Vail Valley Friday morning

VAIL, Colorado ” A heavy snow pounding in Colorado’s Vail Valley Friday morning backed up traffic for miles, forced the closure of Vail Pass and stalled the county’s bus system.

Colorado State Patrol shut down Vail Pass on the eastbound side for more than two hours, from 9:52 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Corporal Larry Graves said.

The pass was closed after a bunch of cars and trucks slid off the freeway, he said.

“There weren’t any crashes, just a lot of slide-offs,” Graves said.

That jammed up eastbound traffic, which was then compounded by more cars and trucks sliding off the road near mile marker 170 in Dowd Junction. Cars, trucks and drivers waiting for the snow to relent and traffic to start moving could be seen just past the Eagle-Vail exit for most of the morning, cramming the east side of Interstate 70. At one point, people started turning around and heading west on the eastbound side of the highway.

“Probably people doing what they wanted,” Graves said.

Other traffic was redirected to U.S. Highway 6, Graves said, which in turn caused problems for ECO Transit, the county’s bus system.

Friday morning’s supervisor, Dave Folkvord, said the county’s bus lines were at a standstill between Beaver Creek and Eagle-Vail for just over an hour because of the logjam of cars and trucks coming off the highway.

“It impacts quite a few passengers, probably a couple hundred people,” Folkvord said. “But it’s better than having them stuck in traffic. We weren’t moving anyway.”

Folkvord was unsure of the time that service resumed, but said there weren’t any problems after that.

“Most people understood and we got the service back as soon as we could,” he said. “It actually went pretty well once we got going again.”

Graves said there were no injuries reported during the morning mayhem, but an accident did occur after the pass was re-opened.

A woman driving a car with her three children slid out of her lane and hit a guardrail heading east, near mile marker 188, he said. The family was taken to Vail Valley Medical Center and treated for minor injuries.

Local State Patrol got some traffic control and chain restriction help from Vail police and two troopers from Glenwood Springs, Graves said.

“It was a heavy spring storm,” Graves said. “And I think we’re in for some more.”

Staff Writer Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or

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