'It's just not worth it': CHP, locals say don't drive to the mountains Thursday

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COLFAX, Calif. (KTXL) -- The snowplows are ready for Thursday -- and not just in the high Sierra.

Placer County's Roads Division has been sending extra crews and equipment to Colfax to handle the several inches of snow expected in the foothills.

For locals, foothill snow is something to expect a few times a year. But they had a message Wednesday for people planning to pass through Thursday.

"Don't drive if you absolutely don't have to," said Theresa Duarte.

In her three years as a cashier at the Colfax Valero gas station, Duarte said she has seen Interstate 80 close many times because of the conditions.

“I mean, I've seen it for two days closed," she told FOX40.

"As you know, we shut down the freeway quite a bit last year because of the whiteout conditions,” said California Highway Patrol Officer David Martinez. “When there's no visibility and the machines up here with Caltrans can't keep up with the road or the snow, we're going to have to shut it down. So be prepared just for that circumstance."

Colfax is usually where Caltrans and the CHP turn cars around.

Many choose to wait outside the Colfax Valero station because it's close to the on-ramp. Signs posted there direct visitors to use restrooms downtown.

"But it doesn't do any good because they don't want to move their car," Duarte said. "So, they stand in line for our restrooms and there's a big line."

That's if they even use the restroom at all.

"A nightmare. Cars everywhere, people pooping in the streets, screaming and hollering, fighting," Duarte said.

Duarte said she is happy to serve the traveling public but on days when travel grinds to a halt, she warned drivers not to risk it.

“No, don't risk it. It's just not worth it," she told FOX40.

For those who feel they must make the trip up the mountain, the CHP warns it will not be safe.

Officer Martinez recommended coming with enough supplies to get through a potentially long wait in the snow.

"Five, six hours plus," he said.

And he said don't believe your GPS if it suggests a side road in a snowstorm. If the freeway is bad, those are worse.

He also cautioned that tire chains require a different kind of driving.

"You know, a lot of people think even though they've got chains on that it's safe to drive at the normal speed,” Officer Martinez said. “You've got to be at 25 to 35 miles an hour. If they're driving with chains on, they've got to drive slow."

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