Truckers continue to ignore signs restricting Indy Pass |

Truckers continue to ignore signs restricting Indy Pass

The last warning sign at the Independence Pass winter gate east of Aspen reminds truckers of the limits and possible fines for taking a big rig over the 12,095-foot summit. Independence Pass is open in the summer and connects Pitkin County to Lake County via Highway 82.

With Thursday’s opening of Independence Pass and Friday’s closing of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon, local law enforcement and transportation officials were on guard for semi-trucks trying to sneak over the Pass.

As soon as Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office officials heard about the westbound semi-truck that jumped the median and fell on to the eastbound lanes early Friday afternoon, a deputy headed up to the winter closure gate east of Aspen, Parker Lathrop, director of operations for the sheriff’s office, said Tuesday.

The deputy turned around a couple of semis at or near the winter closure gate, while Aspen police officers turned around a couple of others who were heading through town, he said. They also reached out to Colorado Department of Transportation officials to change variable message board signs along Highway 82 to emphasize that the Pass (which tops out at 12,095 feet) is closed to vehicles over 35 feet in length, Lathrop said.

After two hours, employees of CDOT and the Colorado State Patrol manned the winter closure gate, on the lookout for rogue truckers, he said.

Early Monday afternoon, a deputy ticketed the driver of a car carrier semi-truck who drove over the Pass from the Twin Lakes side and held up a line of about 20 cars heading down into Aspen, he said. The ticket will cost the driver, who was pulled over in front of the Aspen Police Department, more than $1,100.

Numerous signs between the I-70 Copper Mountain exit and Twin Lakes warn that vehicles more than 35-feet long are not allowed on Independence Pass, which Monday’s driver ignored.

CDOT’s new plan when eastbound I-70 lanes through Glenwood Canyon have to close for fires, landslides or accidents is to stop all semi-trucks at the Canyon Creek exit west of the South Canyon exit and not allow them to reach Glenwood Springs, Lathrop said. The trucks can wait out the closure by the side of the road or turn around and head north near Rifle to go around the canyon, which requires a multi-hour detour, he said.

The new plan came as the result of the Grizzly Creek Fire last summer, when I-70 closed because of fire danger and numerous semi-trucks headed up Highway 82 in an attempt to drive over the Pass. Several trucks became stuck and the Pass was closed for days while officials worked out how to deal with truckers who don’t obey the law.



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