LAKE & PITKIN COUNTIES, Colo. – Independence Pass has reopened to travelers following an extended closure due to the novel coronavirus in the state.
Independence Pass (Colorado Highway 82) reopened for the season Monday, and travelers looking to drive through the mountain pass measured in the dozens – as about 65 vehicles lined up at the PItkin County gate earlier this week, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
The highway, which generally opens the Thursday before Memorial Day, remained closed to traffic due to the state’s stay-at-home order, which prohibited travelers from going to the mountains in order to not overburden those communities with cases of the new respiratory illness.
CDOT officials said in a news release this extended closure gave crews more time to pave two sections of the roadway west of the pass, where the highway narrows to a single lane. They said the work was completed in late May, after the roadway was cleared of snow.
Due to tight curves, steep inclines and narrow lanes on some sections of the pass, commercial and recreational vehicles longer that are 35 feet or longer are prohibited.
The Aspen Times reports this year’s reopening is one of the latest in the past 12 years. In 2008, the pass did not reopen for the season until June 5.