New pavement for Kebler Pass? | AspenTimes.com

New pavement for Kebler Pass?

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

GUNNISON, Colo. ” Kebler Pass, the gravel shortcut between the Roaring Fork Valley and Crested Butte in the summer months, could get a partial paving of sorts, if Gunnison County prevails in its desires.

It’s roughly 20 miles from Aspen to Crested Butte, as the crow flies, and it’s shorter, distance-wise, to hike than to drive between the two mountain towns. The drive from one resort to the other gets even longer when the short cut, Kebler Pass, is closed for the winter.

In the summertime, Kebler Pass ” most of which is a graded, gravel road ” is often a dusty, washboard drive, but Gunnison County aims to improve part of the pass road.

According a report in the Nov. 28 Crested Butte News, Gunnison County is seeking a $500,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to pay for maintenance work on the pass.

“We’re looking for dollars to do some kind of hard surfacing because we have not been able to maintain the road in a manner we believe to be safe,” county public works director Marlene Crosby told the town’s weekly newspaper.

Crosby said the grant money will pay for supplies needed to apply chip seal to about eight miles of Kebler Pass that are currently gravel. Chip seal is a rough form of paving.

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Although the exact locations have not been determined, Crosby said the eight miles would be spread out along the pass in areas that require excessive maintenance.

There are no plans to begin plowing the road and trying to keep it open in the winter.

Kebler Pass Road is 29 miles long and serves as Crested Butte’s main link to Paonia and Aspen during the summer, the News noted. About three miles of it, on the Highway 133 end, is already paved.

The increasing cost of maintaining the gravel portion and related safety issues prompted the county to pursue the grant, Crosby said in the News. Gunnison County spent almost $131,000 on magnesium chloride, to control dusty and erosion on the road, last summer, she said.

Road improvements will help cut down on the use of the chemical.

According to the News, traffic safety is also an issue. The county has struggled to keep the road in good condition because the magnesium chloride treatment wears out by summer’s end.

The county sought a letter of support for its grant request from the Town of Crested Butte, but the Crested Butte Town Council took no action at a meeting last week, according to the News. Mayor Alan Bernholtz suggested the town needed more time to digest the proposal and its implications, since the council was not involved in preliminary discussions on the proposal to chip seal part of the road.