Independence Pass to open Thursday |

Independence Pass to open Thursday

Staff report
An oversized snow plow on the front of a powerful loader eats into the snowpack on Highway 82 about 2 miles from the summit of Independence Pass last week. Crews were able to clear the snow and the scheduled opening on Thursday will be met./ Scott Condon The Aspen Times

Highway 82 over Independence Pass will open as scheduled at 2 p.m. Thursday, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced Monday.

A maintenance crew started removing snow east of the winter closure gate during the last week of April. The crew was using a giant snowblower last week to eat through a 4- to 5-foot wall of snow the remaining two miles to the summit. A separate crew was working on the east side of the pass from Twin Lakes.

CDOT sets an annual goal of opening the road over the 12,095-foot pass on the Thursday prior to Memorial Day Weekend.

“With relatively mild spring weather, CDOT maintenance patrols on both sides of the pass have broken through the snow, met in the middle and will now complete any necessary repairs to the pavement, guardrail, roadside delineation, signs and more,” the agency said in a statement.

The current snowpack levels are 63 percent of average on the Aspen side of the pass and just 31 percent of average on the Twin Lakes side, according to CDOT.

The pass opened two weeks early in 2012 because conditions were so dry during the spring. Crews managed to open the pass on the scheduled date in May 2011 even though the snowpack was 361 percent of average on the west side and snowbanks as high as 20 feet lined the road near the summit.

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