Most Viewed Stories
UPDATE: Independence, Cottonwood passes open early
UPDATE: Independence and Cottonwood passes opened Friday (May 11), about two weeks ahead of normal.
Colorado Department of Transportation crews on Independence Pass got to work removing snow after the last April storm and immediately jumped into completing maintenance work.
CDOT's normal goal is to open the 12,095-foot pass to traffic the Thursday before Memorial Day.
Crews barely opened the pass in time in 2011, a heavy snow year.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center showed the snowpack on the east side of Independence Pass at 452 percent of average in late May 2011, and 361 percent of average on the west side. This year, CAIC data show zero percent of average.
“This has been an extraordinarily wild swing in snowpack amounts compared to last year,” CAIC forecaster Rob Hunker said in a press statement. “We’ve had two extreme years in a row - last year, the snowpack melted around June 23, this year it happened by May 1.”
Kebler Pass opened Tuesday (May 8).
CDOT also said the road up Mount Evans is scheduled to reopen by Memorial Day.
TRAVELER SAFETY MESSAGE: Travelers are reminded to check conditions prior to traveling mountain passes, as spring snowstorms could close them temporarily or slow traffic at times. For roadway conditions, or information the public can log on to www.cotrip.org or call 511.
Or, sign up to receive free road condition messages to e-mail or wireless devices by going to www.coloradodot.info and choosing the green phone icon in the upper right-hand corner.
Since the snow was cleared, CDOT crews have completed the following on Independence Pass:
- Moving 256 concrete barriers before clearing ditches
- Hauling out 390 loads of rock debris from the ditches
- Blading 150 tons of asphalt millings on the shoulders to set barrier back onto
- Resetting the 256 barriers and replacing additional that were damaged (much of the damaged barrier has been recycled for other public agency use, saving disposal costs)
- Working with special CDOT crews from Grand Junction to drill and blast six very large rocks in the ditch so they could be hauled away
- Repairing/replacing signs and roadside delineators
- Trimming trees and brush
- Patching pot holes