Bill to Increase Safety on Independence Pass Receives Bipartisan Support

(Jan. 23) – The House Transportation & Energy committee passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush (D-Steamboat Springs) and Rep. Millie Hamner (D-Dillon) that will increase the fines for drivers of vehicles over 35 feet in length who violate highway restrictions on a 10-3 bipartisan vote. The bill responds to issues related to violations on Independence Pass, which is located in Rep. Hamner’s district.

“The fines we have in place are not high enough since drivers continue to break these laws,” Rep. Hamner said. “This bill will make sure these laws are being followed and enhance the safety of drivers and truckers on Independence Pass.”

Currently it is illegal for the operator of a vehicle that is over 35 feet in length to drive over Independence Pass, but many do in order to save time and gas, even when the pass is closed due to inclement weather. The bill will increase the fine that an operator receives for violating this restriction from $500 to $1,000. If the violation causes a lane closure the fine is increased to $1,500.

“We went through an inclusive stakeholder process, and this bill is the result of the consensus that came out of those meetings,” Rep. Mitsch Bush said. “Ultimately this is about keeping drivers safe by ensuring that the fines are high enough to actually deter drivers from violating the law.”

HB14-1021 will now move to the House Appropriations committee.

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