Independence Pass completely shut down after issues with semis, will remain gated as long as I-70 is closed for Grizzly Creek Fire |

Independence Pass completely shut down after issues with semis, will remain gated as long as I-70 is closed for Grizzly Creek Fire

Jason Auslander, Aspen Times
Vehicles more than 35 feet in length aren’t currently allowed to use Independence Pass.
Kelsey Brunner, Aspen Times

Highway 82 over Independence Pass has been completely closed Wednesday after numerous backups and incidents as trucks try to detour around the Interstate 70 closure through Glenwood Canyon.

Highway 82, which runs from Glenwood Springs to Twins Lakes south of Leadville, is closed from east of Aspen at the winter closure gate to where it comes in at Highway 24, law enforcement and Colorado Department of Transportation officials said Wednesday.

The closure will run concurrently with the closure of I-70 and what happens with the Grizzly Creek Fire, officials said Wednesday at the Pitkin County Commissioners meeting.

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office has had 75 contacts with semis since I-70 was closed Monday, and that’s probably not all the semis that attempted to drive the Pass. As a result of safety concerns presented by that truck traffic, the Sheriff’s Office contacted CDOT and the Governor’s Office. 

“The state has decided to close the Pass indefinitely,” county manager Jon Peacock said Wednesday at the meeting. “Obviously it will reopen if there’s a need for an emergency evacuation of our community.”

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ommissioner Greg Poschman, who is supposed to pick up his daughter at Lost Man Campground in the coming days after a multi-day hike, asked what those who need to do pickups on the Pass should do. G.R. Fielding, county engineer, said CDOT is currently working out those details. 

Patti Clapper asked if foot and bike traffic will be allowed. Peacock said that is also being worked out, though he said he couldn’t imagine that CDOT would restrict such traffic.

“This is gonna complicate a lot of people’s lives,” said Pitkin County Board Chair Steve Child. Semis are being turned around at the roundabout west of Aspen to head back down valley.

The traffic backups coming into Aspen at times on Wednesday started before the airport around mile marker 39 and continued into town. Traffic had eased by the afternoon as the closure was put in place.

Interstate 70 has been closed since the Grizzly Creek Fire started Monday afternoon in the Glenwood Canyon. It has burned more than 3,300 acres as of Wednesday’s update.

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department has had a deputy stationed on Highway 82 since Tuesday morning near truck turnaround spot about five miles east of Aspen. More than 20 semis were stopped on Tuesday from trying to use the pass. Vehicles longer than 35 feet are not allowed on the pass and face up to $1,125 in fines.

I-70 continues to be closed Wednesday between mile point 116 (Glenwood Springs) and 140 (Gypsum) due to the Grizzly Creek Fire. As of Wednesday afternoon, there was no estimated time for the interstate to reopen.

I-70 detour route from CDOT for Grizzly Creek Fire.

Highway 82 was closed eastbound twice Wednesday morning east of Aspen because of semis trying to go up Independence Pass.

According to an alert sent just after 10:15 a.m. by Pitkin County, a semi-truck was having “mechanical issues” and had the eastbound road closed. About an hour before that the road was closed eastbound because a semi jackknifed near Northstar area and the road reopened for a bit before the stalled semi shut it down again.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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