Independence Pass opens for commercial

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN ” Independence Pass might be closed to motorists, but that didn’t stop a recent commercial shoot for Bridgestone Tires.

Traditionally, Colorado Department of Transportation officials open the pass, connecting Aspen with Lake County, on Memorial Day weekend, but because of heavy snow, the opening was pushed to June 7.

On Friday, CDOT crews were busy clearing snow and officials moved the opening up to Friday, June 6.

But even before motorists were allowed up the scenic stretch, on Wednesday a commercial crew shot an advertisement for Bridgestone Tires on a cleared stretch of the pass near the Lost Man trailhead, according to CDOT spokeswoman Mindy Crane.

“We knew about it and were OK with the shoot taking place,” Crane said.

Although CDOT issues special permits for film crews, Bridgestone obtained its permits through the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado State Patrol, Crane said.

The film crew notified CDOT maintenance crews, Crane said.

“They did it during the closure so it wouldn’t impact traffic,” Crane said.

Maintenance crews using heavy machinery have been battling thick snow on the road ” in some places 30 feet deep “for more than a month, said CDOT maintenance superintendent Del French.

“We will be working through the weekend and into next week to get the pass open as soon as possible,” French said in a recent statement. “We know motorists are anxious to use the pass and we are doing our best to get it open.”

Crane said CDOT will release more information about the target June 6 opening as the date approaches.