Independence Pass set to open Thursday |

Independence Pass set to open Thursday

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – The Colorado Department of Transportation hopes to meet a goal of opening Highway 82 over Independence Pass at 2 p.m. Thursday, spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said.

“We look like we’re going to meet our target date,” she said Tuesday.

But Shanks also sounded a word of caution. It is a major undertaking to clear all the snow and rockfall from the road, and replace mangled guardrails, signs and delineators. Maintenance crews are preparing to patch gashed areas of pavement. If the crews run into unanticipated issues, the opening could be delayed until 10 a.m. Friday, Shanks said.

Up-to-date information will be posted at the transportation department’s website: Find the link for “Travel Alerts” and click on “CO 82.”

Maintenance crews working with heavy machinery “punched through” on Tuesday while working from the Twin Lakes and Aspen sides of the pass. Loaders and bulldozers were being used to push snow off the sides of the road. They encountered snow 3 to 4 feet high, with drifts up to 20 feet.

“That is not out of the ordinary,” Shanks said.

The transportation department tries to open the pass on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend. Weather is sometimes an issue. High winds and low visibility can force the department to keep the closure in place, Shanks warned.

Maroon Creek Road will open Friday, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Drivers will be charged $10 per vehicle for a pass valid for five consecutive days. A Maroon Bells local pass is available for $25. It is good for one year after purchase, during times when vehicular restrictions aren’t in place, the Forest Service said in a notice.

There is no charge for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Bus service from Aspen Highlands to Maroon Lake will begin on Saturday, June 19, when mandatory road restrictions go into effect. All days users will be required to take the bus between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The cost for the bus is $6 per person and $4 for children and seniors.

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