Mudslides force Colorado to waive HOS regs for truckers; Dixie Fire keeping roads closed

August 11, 2021

Tyson Fisher

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In response to damaging mudslides in the state that shut down a portion of Interstate 70, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is suspending certain hours-of-service regulations for truckers providing for mitigation and relief efforts.

Colorado mudslides

On Aug. 6, Gov. Polis signed Executive Order D 2021 127, which officially declares a disaster emergency due to burn scar flooding, mudslides and rockslides in several counties, including the highly impacted area of Glenwood Canyon. The executive order also temporarily suspends certain procurement statutes and HOS regulations for certain truck drivers.

Specifically, the executive order provides an exemption from HOS regulations for drivers hauling “gasoline, diesel, aviation fuels, propane, natural gas and other home heating fuels, medical supplies, sanitation, food, paper products, other groceries, and supplies or equipment necessary for community safety.”

All other state and federal trucking regulations remain in place for drivers who are exempt from HOS rules. The executive order emphasizes the fact that carriers are responsible for monitoring drivers for fatigue. HOS exemptions under the order expire 30 days from Aug. 3 unless extended with another executive order.

Certain areas in Colorado with large burn scars from past wildfires have become dangerous after heavy rainfall in July. Burn scars have destroyed much of the vegetation cover of the soil, resulting in substantial runoff of water, soil, rocks and debris, causing flooding and severe damage to local and state roads, bridges, highways and other critical infrastructure.

On Aug.3, Polis announced his intention to sign the executive order for Glenwood Canyon after mudslides shut down Interstate 70 indefinitely.

That closure remains between Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs) and Exit 133 (Dotsero). Although passenger vehicles are directed to take CO 19 to U.S. 40 to CO 13 as a detour, truckers are to take Interstate 80 through Wyoming.

Less than a week after Polis’ announcement, Colorado Motor Carriers Association President Greg Fulton published an op-ed urging officials to begin developing the nearby Cottonwood Pass as an alternative route that can also accommodate truck traffic. The Colorado Department of Transportation estimates the cost of those improvements at about $50 million. However, Fulton argues “that the overall costs to businesses and the travelers to date associated with this most recent closure may already exceed the total cost of improving Cottonwood Pass.”

For the latest road conditions in Colorado, go to COTrip.org.

California Dixie Fire continues to shut down roadways

Meanwhile on the West Coast, wildfires are closing portions of state highways, with the largest one in California.

As of 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday, Caltrans is reporting numerous highway closures in Northern California just east of Chico. At more than half a million acres, the Dixie Fire above the Cresta Dam in Feather River Canyon is at only 30% containment. The wildfire is currently the second largest in state history.

The following roads are closed in Butte, Lassen, Plumas, Shasta and Tehama Counties due to the Dixie Fire:

  • Beckwourth Genesee Road at Antelope Road. No westbound Beckwourth Genesee Road or northbound Antelope Road traffic.
  • SR 89 at Stampfli Lane. No northbound SR 89 or eastbound Stampfli Lane traffic.
  • SR 89 at Arlington Road. No northbound SR 89 or eastbound Arlington Road traffic.
  • Greenville Wolf Creek Road (Old Haun Road) southbound at SR 89.
  • Williams Valley Road northbound at N. Valley Road/Main Street.
  • N. Valley Road at Stampfli Lane. No northbound N. Valley Road or westbound Stampfli Lane traffic, except for ranchers.
  • Genesee Road at Arlington Road. No northbound Genesee Road or westbound Arlington Road traffic.
  • Humboldt Road at Jonesville Road. No east/northbound Humboldt Road or east/southbound Jonesville Road traffic.
  • SR 36 eastbound, east of SR 172 in Childs Meadows.
  • SR 36 westbound at SR 44. No westbound on SR 36.
  • County Highway A21 southbound at SR 44. No southbound on A21.
  • SR 32 eastbound at Scout Road.
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park is closed. No southbound SR 89.

For the latest California road closures, visit QuickMap.dot.ca.gov. LL

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Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.