(March 6) – Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush’s bill to reduce the number of wintertime traffic tie-ups on the mountain portions of Interstate 70 won bipartisan House support this morning. The 43-21 vote sends the bill down the road to the Senate.

HB15-1173, sponsored by Reps. Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, and Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, would clarify the existing chain law that currently requires adequate tread depth or chains when the chain law is in effect. The bill would reduce confusion for motorists who often do not realize that they are already required to have adequate tires or chains and can be fined for noncompliance.

The bill stipulates that from Nov. 1 to May 15, on I-70 in the mountain corridor between Morrison and Dotsero, passenger vehicles must have adequate traction equipment.

Poorly equipped vehicles don’t need to crash, or even to spin out, to cause a massive backup – they merely need to stop on an uphill section of road and be unable to get enough traction to start moving forward again, causing a domino effect as other underequipped vehicles and well-equipped semi trucks get stuck too.

“Anyone who has been stuck on I-70 knows it only takes one poorly equipped vehicle to trigger a full closure,” Rep. Mitsch Bush said. “With this bill we’re showing we’re serious about keeping our mountain lifeline flowing.”

The bill addresses not only a public safety issue, but also an economic one. Wintertime closures of I-70 are estimated to cost the Colorado economy $1 million an hour.

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