Independence Pass getting more money and attention |

Independence Pass getting more money and attention

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

Money awarded Tuesday to help clean up Glenwood Canyon may also be put toward better traffic control on Independence Pass, an official said Tuesday.

Not only will $11.6 million granted Tuesday help pay for debris removal in the canyon, it will also help pay for traffic mitigation impacts on Independence and Cottonwood passes, said Jon Peacock, Pitkin County manager.

Meanwhile, Colorado Department of Transportation officials have assured local officials that contractors will remain on the Lake County and Pitkin County sides of Independence Pass to try and keep oversize vehicles from trying to drive over the narrow pass road, he said. Local officials have also asked CDOT to conduct routine “courtesy patrols” of the pass to help motorists in need of assistance.

While CDOT has taken steps to remove Independence Pass as an alternative route to the I-70 closure on mapping applications like Google and Apple, if traffic impacts get worse National Guard troops could be dispatched to the pass to help control traffic, Peacock said. National Guard personnel are currently assigned to Cottonwood Pass to help mitigate traffic problems there.

Pitkin County Commissioner Steve Child said he liked the idea of stoplights at the lower narrows being a permanent addition to the pass. But while Peacock acknowledged that many drivers clearly have no idea how to navigate the narrow sections of the pass, the stoplights must be operated manually and likely won’t become permanent.

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