Kebler Pass to remain closed

No estimate on how long it will take to repair 

By Katherine Nettles

Although Kebler Pass (County Road 12) has traditionally become an open channel between Crested Butte and its neighbors to the west by Memorial Day weekend, the massive snowfall of last winter and spring has caused major damage to several areas that will possibly take weeks for Gunnison County to repair. In the meantime, Gunnison County Public Works has posted extensive signage, a barricade and is now constructing a gate closure to hold back vehicular traffic that continually attempts to use the high mountain pass and has created further delays to the county’s efforts. There is no timeline for when Kebler might open to through traffic. 

A few weeks ago, the public works crews began clearing snow from the unpaved roadway along Kebler that climbs to 10,007 feet before winding down to Paonia, the North Fork Valley and beyond. As crews have uncovered the road and culverts buried beneath several feet of snow, there have been several significant stop-and-fix washouts that add up to an impassable roadway. 

Over the weekend, Gunnison County public works uncovered an area of significant damage near the 21-mile marker, according to county officials. Public Works director Martin Schmidt confirmed to the Crested Butte News on Wednesday, May 31 that, “The road is impassable at this time. We already have multiple road closed signs, digital message boards and barricades on the road and the public is ignoring them. We are going to set gates on the road to restrict access for the safety of the public. We have no timeline for repairs at this time.”

The day prior on May 30, a semi-truck driver attempted to make the drive over the pass to make deliveries in Carbondale and got stuck between snowbanks near the Irwin turn-off, having to hitch a ride back to Crested Butte with a nearby resident before getting towed out. Schmidt said the semi “passed four different road closed signs, a barricade and a variable message board before getting ‘stuck’ and having to turn around at the Irwin forks.” 

Public Works has asked that vehicular traffic be patient and respectful of the closures to allow their crews to focus on the repairs needed to get Kebler in driving shape. Updated information to the situation can be found at gunnisoncounty.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=274.

 

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