Open house meetings next week to review Cottonwood Pass concept designs

Vehicles take turns navigating the narrows section of Cottonwood Pass at Blue Hill on the Eagle County side during the Interstate 70 closure in summer 2021 due to flooding in Glenwood Canyon.
John Stroud/Post Independent file

Two public meetings are slated next week, one in Glenwood Springs and another in Gypsum, to introduce conceptual plans for improving Cottonwood Pass as an alternative east-west route for local passenger-vehicle traffic during Interstate 70 closures through Glenwood Canyon.

The first open-house format meeting is set to take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.

The second meeting is set for 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at the Gypsum Town Hall Council Chamber, 50 Lundgren Blvd.

The Colorado Department of Transportation and local officials expect to have additional public-input meetings as pending decisions are made, a news release states.

CDOT is working with Garfield and Eagle counties to design safety improvements to the series of county roads that access Cottonwood Pass southeast of Glenwood Springs. 

“CDOT is reviewing safety improvement options for 14 identified locations, six in Eagle County and eight in Garfield County,” the release states. “These locations were selected by the counties based on known safety issues.”

“Cottonwood Pass is a vital connection for local residents who rely on the county road to safely travel between Gypsum and Colorado Highway 82 in the Roaring Fork Valley,” the release notes. “It is often used as an undesignated alternate route when Glenwood Canyon is closed, which has escalated the urgency of addressing safety issues in a timely fashion.”

Project planners are developing what’s called a “context sensitive design” for the route that invites the local entities, affected property owners and others to be a part of the process, planners have said in meetings with county officials.

The public input process is also aimed at getting an accurate cost estimate for the project, the release states.

“CDOT is extremely sensitive to the needs of our partner agencies managing these roads,” Region 3 Transportation Director Jason Smith said. “We want to ensure the safety improvements are a good fit for these communities and the locations they care deeply about.”

Information, graphics and drawings will be displayed at each meeting, and project staff will be on hand to answer questions, the release states.

Those unable to attend the meeting in person can visit the project web page at Comments can be submitted via an online comment form. 

The design process is not expected to be completed until early 2023. It will be up to Garfield and Eagle county commissioners to determine next steps for implementing the proposed improvements, the release states.

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