For sale: Snow chains in East Vail
Aspen, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colo. ” Next winter, truckers in East Vail may be able to sit in the comfort of their cabins while their chains are installed. Or, if they have forgotten their chains altogether, they could buy a set on the spot.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is looking for businesses to set up shop at the chain station ” as well as at Interstate 70’s other 21 stations ” when the “chain law” is in effect to sell or install chains.
Officials hope the move will decrease the number of closures on mountain passes and steep stretches of the interstate during snowy weather. Vail Pass closed 20 times last winter.
“This is just one more thing to try to alleviate those problems in the future,” said Mayor Dick Cleveland.
Truck chains provide additional traction for trucks as they are heading up steep portions of the road. Trucks must use chains for certain parts of the interstate when the chain law is in effect.
Many truckers come to Colorado unprepared for the winter weather, said Bernie Guevara, the Department of Transportation traffic engineer who is coordinating the pilot program.
“Not only do they not know how to put on and remove chains, a lot of times, they’re not even carrying chains,” Guevara said.
The person selling the chains would have a marked vehicle and be wearing some sort of uniform, Guevara said. The program won’t cost the government anything, he said.
“The cost will be passed on to the truck drivers themselves,” he said.
Also new this year, officials will allow a fabric device called an Autosock to be used instead of chains. Its manufacturers say the device is easier to install than chains.
The shoulder of I-70 has been widened in East Vail to give truckers more room to remove their chains after descending the pass. Last October, a trucker from Los Angeles was struck and killed while removing his snow chains in East Vail.
There’s already a wide shoulder at the same spot on the other side of the interstate.
During several closures last winter, hundreds of travelers were stranded in Vail. Some waited in their cars along the frontage roads or in the parking garages. Others waited in makeshift shelters created by the town and the Salvation Army.
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Mountain Rescue Aspen is expanding its education efforts to try to keep people safe in the backcountry during winters and summers. It will host a workshop on Dec. 8 titled, “How to Plan a Backcountry Tour.”