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Independence Pass closed until further notice after trucks illegally detour due to I-70 closure

Vehicles over 35 feet long not allowed on pass, getting stuck
Independence Pass set to close for winter season Thursday
Posted at 5:55 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 20:08:10-04

UPDATE (Friday, Aug. 14, 6 p.m.): Independence Pass opened back up around 5:30 p.m. Friday for passenger vehicles only and with alternating traffic flows after it was closed Wednesday after too many vehicles too long for the restrictions tried to drive over it and got stuck.

And though it reopened Friday night, only cars, SUVs and vans will be allowed, flaggers will alternate traffic flows, and law enforcement will patrol both sides of the pass. Click here to read more.

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PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. – Officials closed down Independence Pass on Highway 82 indefinitely Wednesday after semi-trucks and vehicles towing trailers illegally tried to go over the pass in recent days and got stuck.

Highway 82 was one of the ways around the closure of I-70 due to the Grizzly Creek Fire, which has been burning near Glenwood Springs since Monday. But the Colorado Department of Transportation, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and governor’s office decided Wednesday to shut the pass down after it was closed for much of the day Wednesday due to stuck vehicles.

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said that its deputies had turned away more than 75 trucks from trying to go over the pass and issued six citation for vehicles over the length restrictions for the pass. Vehicles must be less than 35 feet long and under the weight limits in order to use the pass.

Trucks can receive $1,000 citations for simply being on the pass (there are numerous signs warning against certain vehicle types from using it) and can have another $1,500 fine put on top of that if a vehicle has caused a closure or damaged the highway or surrounding guardrails, the sheriff’s office said.

The highway will be closed indefinitely to everyone, including pedestrians and cyclists, except for Leadville residents who might currently be on the Pitkin County side of the closure – so long as they can provide proof of their Leadville address.

The sheriff’s office said the eastbound closure is just east of Aspen and the westbound closure is west of Twin Lakes at the intersection with U.S. 24.

“We frequently see this kind of chaos begin on Independence Pass when I-70 closes but with the tremendous increase in traffic volumes and summer visitors it’s posed safety risks to our deputies and public safety partners that have been patrolling the Pass and providing recovery support when a truck becomes jackknifed or crashes up there,” said Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo in a statement. “We know we’re going to get a lot of questions about when we can reopen but honestly the activity around the Grizzly Creek Fire and when I-70 may open will dictate that decision.”

I-70 remains closed from Glenwood Springs to Gypsum, with the workaround being U.S. 50 east to U.S. 285 for those coming east from Grand Junction, and CO 9 to U.S. 285 south to U.S. 50 for westbound drivers, or CO 91 to U.S. 24 to U.S. 50 westbound.

Click here for the latest traffic conditions across the state from CDOT.