Gibbs chain law bill moves to the Senate |

Gibbs chain law bill moves to the Senate

NICOLE FORMOSAsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado

DENVER Rep. Dan Gibbs once-controversial measure that would raise the fines for commercial truck drivers who disobey the chain law during wintry driving conditions is on its way to the state Senate.House Bill 1229 passed the House floor on third reading Monday on a 56-to-9 vote.I am confident that this bill will create a safer environment for everyone on the road by increasing personal accountability, improving existing chain-up areas and enforcing the law, Rep. Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, said. The measure would increase the penalty from $116 to $500 for those who dont chain up when the chain law is in effect, or from $500 to $1,000 if the drivers truck blocks a lane of traffic.It includes an amendment that excludes tow truck drivers from the law, and another amendment that would allow private vendors to sell or rent chains on I-70 for drivers who arent prepared for the conditions.The Colorado Department of Transportation has said that parts of the interstate were closed for 116 hours last year due to chainless trucks spinning out, and has estimated an economic loss of $800,000 per hour that the road is closed on a typical weekend.The bills current state is the result of weeks of meetings between Gibbs, the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, the Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Department of Transportation to strike a balance between all key stakeholders.In the end, CDOT contributed $2.47 million toward addressing some of the safety concerns that kept the Motor Carriers Association from supporting the bill, like a lack of well-lit chain up areas that are adequately protected from traffic on I-70.The Motor Carriers Association now strongly supports House Bill 1229.Gibbs likened the process to running a 50-mile ultra marathon race, where you feel many emotions and experience highs and lows during the race.You feel great at mile 10, but at mile 45 you feel lousy and not sure if you can finish because your body is hurting so bad, but at mile 48 you know that you will finish and start feeling better, and at mile 50 you are feeling great because youve completed the race.I feel great that this bill passed with such strong bipartisan support since the bill felt like it was on mile 45 for weeks, but I kept plugging away, Gibbs said. House Bill 1229 stalled when it first went to House Transportation and Energy Committee in mid-February, but the committee stopped short of killing the bill completely. When Gibbs brought the legislation back to the committee on March 15, it passed unanimously. Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at