Cottonwood Pass controls are planned during canyon closure
Crews working on the Grand Avenue bridge project plan to pave Sixth Street from the old Shell gas Station to the Grand Avenue bridge from 9 a.m-3 p.m. Wednesday. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction during this paving project. Crews also will be paving the intersection of Sixth Street and Laurel Avenue from 8-11 a.m. Wednesday.
Garfield and Eagle counties plan to have traffic controls in place during the planned daytime closure of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon this week to prevent large trucks from trying to go over Cottonwood Pass.
According to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, representatives from the two counties met Monday to come up with a plan to control traffic over the back country mountain pass during the I-70 closure, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. both Wednesday and Thursday.
Eagle County agreed to arrange for a traffic control company to be staged at the bottom of the pass on both the Eagle (County Road 10A) and Garfield (CR113) sides. Any semis or other large delivery trucks attempting to take the pass will be turned around before they reach the narrower section of road above.
“This will delay traffic and cause back-ups in both Glenwood Springs and Gypsum as travelers, commuters and commercial traffic try to get around the closure,” the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. “Cottonwood Pass is a narrow gravel road with sharp turns and vertical drop-offs. It is not suitable for large commercial vehicles.”
A similar daytime closure of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon in late July to do ongoing rockfall mitigation work resulted in two semis stalling on Cottonwood Pass when one of them jackknifed.
During the Wednesday and Thursday closure, eastbound motorists are advised to take Colorado 13 north from Rifle to U.S. 40 at Craig and east over Rabbit Ears Pass or down Colorado 131 back to I-70.
The Colorado Department of Transportation also advises that Cottonwood Pass is not a viable route for large vehicles, and that Colorado 82 over Independence Pass has a 35-foot vehicle length limit.
County road departments will also have several electronic message boards advising of the I-70 closure and suggested alternate routes.
The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office plans to have a greater presence than normal in and around the west side of Cottonwood Pass as well as roads feeding into Cottonwood Pass.
Garfield County residents who will be traveling east on I-70 on the closure days are encouraged to do so before 8 a.m. or after the canyon reopens those evenings.
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A Garfield County commissioner angrily denounced Pitkin County and state transportation officials Friday as “disrespectful, arrogant, gutless and selfish” for closing Independence Pass earlier this week.