TRAVEL UPDATE: McClure Pass on Highway 133 reopens after holiday weekend closure due to avalanche hazard
UPDATE, Sunday 3 p.m.: Colorado Highway 133 has reopened over McClure Pass south of Carbondale after being closed since late Thursday due to avalanche safety concerns.
Original report: The closure was necessary to protect the traveling public following the winter storm that brought up to 3 feet of snow to the Elk Range.
The closure was initially announced by the Colorado Department of Transportation on Thursday morning to begin at 6 p.m. that day, giving commuters the day to travel across the pass before the closure began.
It remained closed through Friday, Saturday and into Sunday, per the Colorado Department of Transportation’s COtrip.org travel information website.
Access to Gunnison County Road 3 into Marble remained open.
Avalanche mitigation on McClure Pass was not planned on Thursday before the closure went into effect, CDOT Regional Communications Manager Elise Thatcher said.
Initially, CDOT had only planned for a nighttime closure Thursday into Friday morning, but heavy snowfall has kept McClure Pass closed.
“We would close it if we thought we would be at that point today,” Thatcher said Thursday. “We work with the (Colorado Avalanche Information Center) and based on their assessment of the amount of snow in the forecast, we decided it was safest to close the road overnight.”
According to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, “A powerful winter storm will impact the region through the New Years holiday with 1 to 2 feet of snow expected for most mountain areas. Some ranges will see pockets of 3 or more feet of snow by Saturday.
“If traveling through the weekend, be prepared for hazardous travel conditions and consider making alternative travel plans,” the NWS advises.
Snow is also expected to accumulate in the lower valleys along major highways, with another 4 to 6 inches of snow expected along the Interstate 70 corridor in Garfield County, 12-18 inches in Eagle County, and 8-12 inches in the Elk Mountains between Carbondale and Aspen.
Updates on the planned McClure Pass closure and other state highway closures are posted on COtrip.org.
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