Road conditions 'horrible' on Tuesday

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Roads were so bad Tuesday that Colorado State Patrol troopers could not be reached for comment -- they were on the road dealing with one accident after another.

Routt County Undersheriff Dan Taylor said his department had been assisting with accidents throughout the day but that none of the crashes involved serious injuries of which he was aware.

Instead, most accidents involved vehicles slipping off the roads or sliding into whatever was in front of them, he said.

Taylor called road conditions on Tuesday "horrible," and encouraged drivers to take it slow in such conditions.

"Be extremely careful, take a few extra minutes to get to where you need to go," Taylor said.

Jim Weber, director of public works for the city of Steamboat Springs, said the city's road crews were out in full force trying to keep the roads in good shape. One problem, he said, was that the bulk of Tuesday's snow fell early and at mid-morning, after plowing crews began at 5 a.m. and as rush-hour traffic was beginning.

"Mother Nature is making it a little bit difficult," he said.

The city's five motor graders and four sand trucks worked through the day, going through their routes one full time and through about half of the routes a second time.

Four front-end loaders were clearing the city's alleys and dead-end streets.

Snow kept falling on top of the small pieces of volcanic pumice that the crews deposited on the roads, and when vehicles drove over the fresh snow, they buried the materials that were meant to provide traction.

"It's one of those ones (in which) we can't be all places at all times, so we try to hit the important places as often as we can," Weber said.

Another factor in the slickness of the roads was that pavement was very warm and temperatures hovered near freezing, he said.

When snow hit the warm asphalt, it formed a sort of slush. As soon as a vehicle drove over that, it formed a layer of ice, or what Weber calls "grease," which was very slippery. These conditions can be especially dangerous because it may not look icy to a driver.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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