Weather leads to crashes on U.S. 40 |

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Weather leads to crashes on U.S. 40

A truck driver puts chains on his tires this morning near Mount Harris on the eastbound lane of U.S. Highway 40, just east of Hayden. Earlier in the morning, the same stretch of highway had been closed for more than an hour due to a vehicle blocking both lanes. Deputy Dara Frick, of the Routt County Sheriff’s Office, said the Colorado Department of Transportation had to sand the roadway to remove the stuck vehicle.

Icy conditions east of Hayden caused several drivers to slide off U.S. Highway 40 and forced a closure of the road from about 7:30 to 9 a.m. Wednesday.

As of Wednesday evening, there were no serious injuries reported from the crashes.

Mellisa Baumgartner, public information officer for the Routt County Sheriff's Office, said a vehicle slide blocked both lanes of traffic on the highway during the morning commute.

"It was extremely icy," Baumgartner said. "Traffic was already moving slowly as it was."

U.S. 40 was closed just east of Hayden until a sand truck could arrive and the vehicle could be moved.

Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said there was a two-car, minor-injury crash at about 6:35 a.m. near mile marker 117 at the east end of the canyon between Hayden and Steamboat Springs.

Baumgartner reported that an eastbound Dodge Durango slid to the side of the road at about 6:30 a.m. She said the vehicle made contact with a Jeep Wagoneer, but no air bags deployed.

Medical crews took one driver to Yampa Valley Medical Center with minor injuries. Baumgartner said the driver was later released.

Another two-car, noninjury crash was reported at about 6 a.m. and was handled by the Sheriff's Office.

Aside from the crashes, a number of drivers slid off the road and needed help getting back on.

Elliott said several vehicles slid near mile marker 113 near the railroad tracks, and two slid off at mile marker 115, by the cliffs.

"I couldn't even tell you how many cars slid off the road this morning because they were driving too fast for conditions or didn't have the right tires, or they locked up because they were following someone too closely and had to slam on the brakes," Baumgartner said.

She said as the roads melted and refroze, it was hard for sanding trucks to keep up.

Commercial vehicles were required to have chains on U.S. 40 over Rabbit Ears Pass, but the chain law was lifted just before 2 p.m., according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service is forecasting a slight chance of snow in the area this afternoon, with skies clearing through Friday.