Domo Arigato, Mr.Roadboto (pt.1): Introducing the Problem

Alex Tsankov
2 min readDec 25, 2016


If you’re a Coloradan who lives in either Boulder or Denver, chances are you’ve heard of the Epic Local Pass. It’s a pass that gives you unlimited local access to a number of the major ski resorts (Keystone, Vail, Arapahoe Basin, etc.) located a few hours west of Denver/Boulder.

Getting to Keystone Resort from Boulder!

However, to access any of these resorts requires you to pass over Interstate-70 (I70), one of the most complex sections of the US highway system that slices through the Rocky Mountains. With a high point of over 11,000 ft, the road is liable to be closed in bad snowy weather, exactly the time you want to be skiing! I learned about this problem the hard way when I once got snowed in up at Keystone and had to pay $400 that night to get a hotel room. While I ended up getting a great powder day the next morning, I know everyone can’t afford to make that choice.

Fortunately, Colorado’s Department of Transportation (CDOT) maintains an updated website to access this sort of road closure information, unfortunately there are a number of serious accessibility issues with the site:

Speed: The page size for their single page Angular 1 app is over 868 KB! While this might be ok for a desktop application, consider how long this takes for a cell phone on a poor 3G/Edge connection in the mountains while it is snowing. Using Chrome’s throttling feature, it took over 16 seconds to load the page, and this assumes a normal 3G connection.

An absolute behemoth, thanks Angular!

Usability: Once you’ve load the single page app you then have to:

  • Find where exactly you’re located on this entire map of Colorado.
  • Identify exactly what road you need to take to get back home.
  • Try to click on the road (not immediately clear with all of the different overlays). And especially not easy on a small phone screen.
  • Imagine having to do this when it’s snowing all around you, your phone is getting wet, and your fingers are going numb!

Accessibility: What if you don’t own a smart phone? Using the current system, you can only access this website via a data connection.

There has to be a better way…