Independence Pass remains closed Friday morning; CDOT crews work to clear snowdrifts
Road not closed for season, but snowstorms create some large drifts
Independence Pass remains closed Friday morning because of snowdrifts on the narrow road, a Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman said in an update Friday morning.
Crews are working to clear the road after about 2 to 3 inches of new snow on the east side of Independence Pass, CDOT’s Elise Thatcher said in an email Friday to The Aspen Times. This after the storm dropped 6 to 8 inches of snow on the pass overnight Tuesday, which is when the pass closed.
There are “snowdrifts on the west side that are as high as the guardrail in places. One drift is up to 3 feet deep. That will take some time to clear today,” Thatcher said Friday morning.
There is no estimated time for the pass to reopen Friday, she added, but they would have a progress update in the afternoon.
The pass is not yet closed for the season, though some electronic message boards along Highway 82 and Interstate 70 indicated Tuesday that it was, Thatcher said earlier this week.
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Also, though local law enforcement sources said Tuesday a single-vehicle crash near the top of the pass was the reason for the closure, that was not the cause, she said.
“Both of those messages are incorrect, and the closure is due to driving conditions,” Thatcher said. “The safety closure started last (Tuesday) due to the storm moving through the area. The road already has limited visibility, so winter driving conditions can quickly make it unsafe for motorists.”
The storm dropped 6 to 8 inches of snow on the pass, and CDOT crews were making their way up the road Wednesday to plow it, she said.
“A second storm is anticipated to move in later today and (Thursday), … so we will plow the road as much as possible before the next storm arrives,” Thatcher said in the email.
The second storm moved out of the area Friday morning.
Independence Pass typically closes for the winter around Nov. 7, according to CDOT’s website. The road opens for the summer on the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend, weather permitting.
In 2020, the pass did not close until Nov. 13, which was the latest closure since 2016 when the winter gate about 5 miles east of Aspen closed Nov. 17. In 2019, the pass had one of its earliest closures when CDOT shut it down for the season Oct. 28. In 2006, it closed for the season Oct. 23.