Colorado bill seeks solution to hazmat truck travel on I-70

February 20, 2019

Keith Goble


Certain hazmat truckloads traveling through Colorado soon could be cleared to access the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels.

One bill halfway through the statehouse would have the Colorado Department of Transportation study whether tanker trucks hauling hazardous materials should be authorized to use the tunnels on Interstate 70 west of Denver.

Affected loads now must use Loveland Pass on U.S. Highway 6 to travel through the area. An exception is made to access the tunnels when the two-lane pass is closed for weather or other reasons. Hazmat loads then are allowed to use the tunnels during certain times.

Sponsored by Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, and Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, SB32 would require CDOT to complete a study by December 2020. The agency would be charged with coming up with findings and recommendations for permitting hazmat loads to travel the tunnels.

The Legislature has tried before to come up with a solution to address concerns about hazmat loads driving through the tunnels. In 2011, legislation was approved to create a $25 million fire-suppression system for the tunnels.

Bill supporters note the system, however, has shown to be inadequate to address fire concerns. They advocate for the proposed study to help come up with a solution. Others say it is quite possible a study would confirm hazmat trucks should not run through the tunnels with other traffic.

The bill is in the House Transportation and Local Government Committee. If approved by the full chamber, SB32 would move to the governor’s desk. Senate lawmakers already approved it.

Commercial driver licenses

The House and Senate have approved a bill to help clear the path for putting younger drivers behind the wheel of a truck.

SB18 would lower from 21 years to 18 years the minimum age required in the state to be licensed to operate a commercial vehicle in interstate commerce.

Federal law also must include the authorization to take effect at the state level.

The bill now moves to the governor’s desk.