CDOT Still Planning an On-Target May 22 Opening of Independence Pass

May 20, 2014 - Northwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 3 - LAKE/PITKIN COUNTIES –Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) crews have been working from daylight to dark in an effort to clear the way for an on-target opening of Independence Pass on the Thursday prior to Memorial Day—which lands on May 22 this year—at 2 p.m.

However, avalanche control work was completed just last week as it was the first time weather permitted crews to get to the areas requiring a control mission; much more will be known within the next few days.

CDOT crews work with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) to clear up to one dozen slide paths that can impact the road.  Not all paths present a threat each spring; however, according to the most recent CAIC report by area forecaster Rob Hunker, snowpack on the pass today is at 198% of an average year.

With the avalanche control mission completed, crews on the ground have the task at hand of clearing the snow that came down the avalanche slide paths.  Necessary work to open the gates may include the following:

  • Clearing avalanche slide paths (up to 12 total)

  • Clearing snow, ice and other debris (from slide paths) from the roadway and shoulders

  • Moving concrete barriers before clearing ditches

  • Hauling out loads of rock debris from the ditches

  • Blading asphalt millings on the shoulders to set barrier back onto

  • Resetting barriers and replacing any additional that may have been damaged (much of the damaged barrier is recycled for other public agency use, saving disposal costs)

  • Working with special CDOT crews from Grand Junction to drill and blast any large rocks in the ditches so they can be hauled away

  • Repairing/replacing signs, guardrail and roadside delineators

  • Trimming trees and brush

  • Patching pot holes

“The most time-consuming of our spring activities is clearing the roadway of all the hard snow, ice and debris that can be brought down with avalanche mitigation,” said Marc Quintana, who supervises CDOT crews on the east side. “Once we clear the highway and ensure the safety of the slide paths, any repair work can begin.”

Should the pass open on May 22, CDOT crews will continue the business of keeping this and other state highway mountain passes safe and in good condition for the ensuing summer season ahead.

TRAVELER SAFETY MESSAGE:  Motorists and cyclists are reminded to always check conditions prior to traveling mountain passes, as spring snowstorms could close them temporarily or slow traffic at times.  Updated road conditions are available at or by calling 511 from anywhere in the state or by visiting and choosing the green phone icon in the upper right-hand corner.    You can also download our CDOT mobile app for more information, road conditions and project updates. Up to date information is also available via Twitter @coloradodot and be sure to “Like” our Facebook page

(Photos posted on CDOT’s Media Room