DENVER (CBS4)- The Colorado Department of Transportation has a warning for drivers ahead of the Winter storm that is blowing into the state on Wednesday: avoid Interstate 25 south of Denver into Colorado Springs. Heavy snow is forecasted in parts of Colorado and that area.
"Those folks who work in Denver and commute from living in Colorado Springs, leave work early and avoid the gap if you can," Tamara Rollison, with CDOT told CBS4. "Particularly tonight after 8 o'clock when we expect the storm to hit."
Rollison says they're most concerned about travel along Monument Hill and the I-25 South Gap project, which is why they are asking drivers to plan ahead.
The largest impacts of the storm are expected west of Denver from the foothills to the Eisenhower Tunnel and south of Denver along I-25, with up to seven inches of snow around the Palmer Divide. Travel impacts, including possible closures, are expected for Monument Hill and the I-25 South Gap project area where five to nine inches of snow are expected.
CDOT will pre-treat I-25 Monument Hill and the area north to Castle Rock but the anticipated heavy snow will lead to slick driving conditions through the evening commute and overnight.
"The gap is a trick area, mainly because it's a highly elevated road," she explained. "With current construction that presents some challenges, even though we do everything we can to make the road as safe as possible while under construction, when it snows and were expecting a significant storm along that stretch tonight, it can make it more treacherous."
The speed limit will be lowered to 45 mph beginning at 6 p.m., earlier than the previously announced 8 p.m. That change will last throughout the duration of the storm. The Thursday morning commute will likely be slick and icy with snow.
Multiple crashes involving more than three dozen vehicles shut down northbound I-25 in Castle Rock during the first snow of the season on Oct. 10.
"Leave early to try to get home before the storm hits and coming into work, wait until after the morning rush hour," Rollison said.
In the Denver metro area, CDOT crews will begin snow shifts Wednesday afternoon and will have approximately 100 plows on the roads throughout the storm. Crews are not expected to pre-treat the roads because the rain would wash away the materials but will de-ice roads once the snow starts.
CDOT recommends that motorists give themselves extra time for their Thursday morning commute as roads are expected to be mostly wet and slick with icy areas on bridges and overpasses. It's also recommended that vehicles be winter ready with appropriate tires, take it slow and leave plenty of room behind the vehicle ahead.
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