tampabay.com

Thousands caught in traffic jams after Colorado storm

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published February 18, 2007


DENVER - Thousands of travelers heading to ski areas for the holiday weekend were stalled by giant traffic jams Saturday as highways were blocked by crews removing snowslides.

One avalanche at Berthoud Pass on Highway 40, the main road to the Winter Park ski resort, knocked a state maintenance vehicle off the road during the night, said Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Stacey Stegman.

That pass was the scene of an avalanche last month that knocked two vehicles off the road and stranded several motorists.

Elsewhere, avalanche crews firing explosive charges to break up potential avalanches dislodged a massive slide that buried Interstate 70, the main access from Denver to many of the state's major ski resorts, including Vail and Aspen.

"We've just gotten so much snow up there in the last two days," Stegman said. "This is one of the biggest ski weekends of the year. We would love to keep the highway open. It's just so much snow."

By the time officials reopened I-70 shortly after 10 a.m., the traffic jam stretched east for 10 miles, Stegman said.

The storm, which had moved out of the state Saturday, piled up as much as 18 inches of snow in the mountains, Stegman said.