New plan for Vail Pass closures |

New plan for Vail Pass closures

Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL ” A new plan has been created for winter closures and reopenings of Interstate 70 throughout Eagle County.

The procedures were developed over the past seven months by the Colorado Department of Transportation as well as public safety agencies and communities along I-70 from Dotsero to Vail.

Parts of the plan will be put to the test during an emergency training exercise from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. today at Donovan Pavilion in Vail, where a 12-hour closure of Vail Pass will be simulated.

Vail Pass closed a record 43 times last winter.

The new plan calls for staged closures and phased re-openings along the 60-mile corridor. The goal of the plan is to reduce gridlock and better provide information to travelers.

When eastbound I-70 closes, electronic signs will direct trucks to exit at Dotsero, where CDOT is constructing improvements worth $2.2 million at the exit that will accommodate up to 60 trucks in a parking lot.

Truckers will also have access to 220 additional emergency parking spaces along Highway 6 from Dotsero to Gypsum and 120 spaces on the Frontage Road west of Dotsero.

The plan also provides for staged closures at Avon, Edwards, Wolcott and Eagle as parking capacity becomes full in communities farther east.

Efforts will be made to keep the interstate open for local traffic from Dotsero to Vail. The staged closures will occur through use of “variable message signs” along the interstate which will say, “Local traffic only ahead. All others exit.”

Before announcing a reopening of the interstate, all vehicles stopped on ramps and staging areas will be cleared before additional traffic will be allowed onto the highway.

CDOT has invested more than $3 million along the corridor with 14 new “variable message signs,” installation of a new gate at the main Vail eastbound on-ramp, and new electronic speed limit signs at Vail Pass that will lower the speed limit to 55 mph when the chain law is in effect.

Additionally, new cameras will be placed at interchange ramps at East Vail, main Vail and the chain-up area to help authorities monitor traffic.

Also, CDOT has arranged for vendors to help truckers chain up.

The town of Vail has also been distributing vehicle placards for residents of East Vail to help them get home during pass closures.

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