Feds officially regard Independence Pass as scenic | AspenTimes.com

Feds officially regard Independence Pass as scenic

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesHighway 82 over Independence Pass near Aspen has been inducted into the National Scenic Byway system.

ASPEN – Independence Pass is growing in stature.

The Independence Pass corridor, southeast of Aspen, was formally inducted into the National Scenic Byway system in an Oct. 16 ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Mark Fuller, director of the Independence Pass Foundation, a nonprofit working to restore the ecosystem of the pass and repair road-cut scars, attended the ceremony.

“It puts it on the National Scenic Byway map, for what it’s worth,” Fuller said. “It’s as much a prestige thing as anything.”

The pass corridor between Twin Lakes and Aspen was added to Colorado’s Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway in 2007. That made the corridor eligible for the national system. The Independence Pass Foundation was part of a team that applied for the federal designation. An application was reviewed by a special panel appointed by the Federal Highway Works Administration. The local road’s inclusion was ultimately approved by the secretary of transportation.

Since the rest of the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway was already part of the National Scenic Byway system, it made inclusion of the Independence Pass corridor “less controversial and time-consuming than it might have been otherwise,” Fuller said.

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The National Scenic Byways program was started in 1992 to recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads in the United States. With 125 roads around the country already in the system, Friday’s ceremony added 42 roads.

Designation makes the roads eligible for funding for special projects and makes available expertise in areas such as recreation planning and traffic management, Fuller said.