Drivers face bad weather, long delays on I-70 detour route
February 19, 2016
Steamboat SpringsSteamboat Springs — Over-the-road trucker Ray McDonough was only planning to spend a day in Colorado this week. — Over-the-road trucker Ray McDonough was only planning to spend a day in Colorado this week.
Steamboat Springs — Over-the-road trucker Ray McDonough was only planning to spend a day in Colorado this week.
Rockfalls in Glenwood Canyon, sleet and wind in Rifle and a FedEx truck that didn’t navigate a slushy turn near Oak Creek extended his stay.
“I’ve been in this state four days now,” he said from the driver’s seat of his truck, which was parked Friday morning at the front of a long line of traffic waiting for the FedEx truck to be removed from Colorado Highway 131, which is being used by thousands of drivers as a four-hour detour around a closure on Interstate 70. “It is what it is.”
The I-70 detour route on Highway 131 came to a sudden halt around lunchtime due to the accident.
There were no injuries, only more traffic headaches and delays for drivers already on a 203-mile detour.
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Oak Creek Fire Chief Chuck Wisecup said the FedEx driver, who was making the long detour with other truckers, was not experienced driving in the snowy and icy conditions on the winding, two-lane highway.
McDonough, of Simon’s Trucking in Farley, Iowa, witnessed the accident, which closed the highway for about an hour and caused traffic delays throughout the day.
“It’s one of them perfect examples of going slow is better,” he said. “Take your time. Be patient. At least you’ll get to where you wanna go.”
Asked about the accident and other delays on the detour route, Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said drivers have been growing impatient.
“People are just simply driving too fast,” Shanks said. “Folks do need to slow down and take it easy.”
While one driver could be heard cursing in the long traffic queue near Oak Creek, others, like McDonough, have been using the extra time to enjoy the scenery of Northwest Colorado.
They’ve come to expect delays on mountain roads in the winter.
“It’s just part of winter driving,” he said. “You expect it.”
McDonough is headed home to Iowa and might not ever have driven through Steamboat Springs if I-70 hadn’t been closed by the rockfall earlier this week.
“I’d like to come back here someday,” he said. “It’s beautiful.”
He also has found other ways to endure the long delays.
“In a big truck, there’s always something to do and something to clean,” he said.
Other drivers stuck on the traffic route were trying to get to work in Yampa or on the long road back to Denver from Grand Junction.
“I’m not in no hurry, so it don’t matter,” Manuel Martinez said of his longer drive to the Front Range.
On social media, some drivers expressed frustration about the detour, while others posted photos of an unexpected lunch in Steamboat.
CDOT officials said the goal is to open a single lane of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon on Saturday.
Even when the interstate reopens, however, drivers will still face delays, as pilot cars will be bringing one direction of traffic through a six mile stretch at a time.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10