Longest delay since 1995
By Katherine Nettles
After weeks of uncertainty—and a lot of preparation—Kebler Pass is slated to open to two-way traffic beginning Thursday, June 13, at 4 p.m. Kebler Pass Road is traditionally open by Memorial Day, but was left in limbo for a few weeks as public works officials assessed up to three feet of snow still on the road at the forks of Irwin in early June.
Gunnison County Public Works director Marlene Crosby warned that the road is still a work in progress and has not yet received its normal maintainence routine.
“People should be careful, and allow a little extra time. It will be a rough road,” she said.
Crosby said the county was still working to plow the road on Tuesday evening, June 11, and began applying magnesium chloride Wednesday, June 12. The crew expected to finish that process well in advance of opening Thursday evening. The progression for clearing the pass, she said, begins with snow removal, then checking all drainages and culverts. Once those are in good order, road work such as blading can be done. The maintenance, it seemed, was likely to keep going steady through Thursday midday to get to the finish line.
The Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce executive director Ashley Upchurch says Keblar Pass delays have not had much direct impact on visitors. “Our Visitor Center numbers have not been significantly impacted by the late opening of Kebler so far. We are seeing about the same numbers as we saw last year at this time,” she said.
The last time Kebler’s opening was delayed this late into spring was in 2011, when it opened on June 9. Prior to that, late openings occurred in 1995 (June 30) and 1993 (June 22), according to Crosby. “The late opening could have been heavy snow or road damage that had to be repaired,” says Crosby of previous years.
Gothic Road opened June 3, and Cottonwood Pass is still scheduled for August 12 due to the heavy spring snow.