CDOT: No walkers, riders on Independence Pass road early next week

The state transportation department will close Highway 82 past the winter closure gate next week to walkers, joggers and bikers to repair the rock- and ice-battered asphalt, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

The road toward Independence Pass, which is set to open May 24 for the summer, will close Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday so Colorado Department of Transportation workers can pave and patch portions of the road damaged by winter conditions, Tracy Trulove of CDOT said.

The agency will post a flagger at the closure gate to turn people away, she said. The work will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and could wrap up early each day and may be completed before Wednesday, Trulove said.

“If no one is at the gate and (workers) are gone, then it’s OK (to walk or ride up the road),” she said. “But if we’re still there, they’re not going to get past our flagger.”

In particular, the heavily trafficked area around the Grottos will be repaved and repaired, Trulove said. The operation should provide a smooth surface for bikers in the annual Ride for the Pass, scheduled for May 19, she said.

Karin Teague, executive director of the Independence Pass Foundation that organizes the bike ride, said she rode her bicycle up the highway Tuesday.

“The road is in pretty poor shape in spots,” she said. “There’s a few spots where (there are) potholes from rocks coming down. That road takes a beating.”

Teague said she could see CDOT plows near the top of the Pass and posted on her organization’s website that workers had reached the summit.

Trulove said she was told crews were still working on some drifts and was not sure if they’d reached the summit.

Alex Burchetta of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office also said Thursday he was told CDOT reached the summit.

Trulove said CDOT also will perform avalanche mitigation using a helicopter from the Twin Lakes side of the Pass, most likely toward the end of next week.

If all the maintenance is complete, the weather remains warm and clear and avalanche hazards are cleared, the road could open sooner than noon May 24, the agency’s current target date, Trulove said.