Slideshow: Canyon closure sends more truckers, motorists toward closed Indy Pass in Aspen | AspenTimes.com
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Slideshow: Canyon closure sends more truckers, motorists toward closed Indy Pass in Aspen

A semi-truck gets stuck as it tries to turn around Wednesday near the closure gate on Independence Pass. Truckers and other motorists have been heading toward Aspen since Tuesday seeking an alternative route to the Glenwood Canyon closure without realizing the pass is closed during winter months. Police estimate "hundreds" of cars and trucks have been turned away this week.
Ryan Leland/Special to The Aspen Times |

Before noon Wednesday, five semitractor-trailers had already tried to make it around the rockslide in Glenwood Canyon by driving up Independence Pass, a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy said.

And that’s on top of four or five truckers who tried to do the same thing Tuesday, said Deputy Alex Burchetta, Pitkin County sheriff’s spokesman. And that’s in addition to numerous drivers in regular cars trying to climb Independence Pass, Hagerman Pass and others since the second, larger slide Monday night, he said.

“I think it has to do with GPS,” Burchetta said. “I’d hate to think they’re ignoring (the signs).”

The county put up another sign on Highway 82 on Wednesday — this one near the airport — announcing that Independence Pass was closed, Burchetta said. That’s in addition to the usual signs near Basalt and east of Aspen, he said.

“It’s a behemoth of a problem right now, but we’ll have to figure out how to fix that because people are making some bad choices.” — Tracy Trulove, CDOT spokeswoman

The trucks often get stuck turning around at the closure gate or before, he said. However, deputies are not writing tickets because the truckers are technically not violating the law against semis on the pass until after the closure gate, Burchetta said.

The county also put up another sign in the Fryingpan Valley announcing the closure of Hagerman Pass in the winter, he said. Drivers — including two men who fled from law enforcement in both Utah and Colorado on Tuesday — have been heading that direction. That is dangerous because it’s 36 miles before the closure and there’s no cellphone service and no people up there, Burchetta said.

Burchetta hasn’t stationed a deputy east of Aspen to stop the trucks because too many homeowners live in the area, and stationing a deputy past the last house isn’t worth it because trucks would still have to drive to the gate to turn around, he said.

Tracy Trulove, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said the agency is trying to get the word out about the pass closures. However, if the problem is GPS or Google Maps, it’s unclear how to fix the problem, she said.

“It’s a behemoth of a problem right now,” Trulove said, “but we’ll have to figure out how to fix that because people are making some bad choices.”

jauslander@aspentimes.com


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