Kebler Road drying out but no opening in sight for pass

County hopes to start work on repairs next week

By Katherine Nettles

Kebler Pass (County Road 12) remains closed for the time being, and the squeeze on through-routes to the west of Crested Butte remains tough on travelers but will require some more patience. It appears Kebler will not be opened for at least another week, and perhaps longer after Gunnison County Public Works discovered major road damage before Memorial Day and has struggled to plow through remaining snow and get the road surface dry enough for safe travel. 

The most significant damage occurred at a washout near mile marker 21, and Public Works director Martin Schmidt told the Crested Butte News this week that work can begin soon on the repairs, but they will still take time.

“We are seeing significant drying on Kebler and hope to begin work next week. One of the big tasks is removing overburden (material that isn’t supposed to be on the road like mud, trees and clay) and getting to stable ground, and that is determined in the field, so the timeline is fluid.”

With numerous signs, barricades, a gate and other measures to inform the public that the pass cannot be used yet, Schmidt said that the public inquiries and attempts to use the roadway continue to be an issue. Last week a semi-truck attempted to use the pass and had to be towed out.

“We have not had any increase in complaints, but do experience a steady stream of calls trying to determine the available alternate routes,” he said. “We did have one gate pulled down, but we got it back up quickly.”

Schmidt said that the estimated costs for this repair are not yet known but the majority of the costs will be in staff time and materials to repair the culverts. “The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has worked with us to provide the rock for the repair,” he said.

As far as alternate routes to the west, CDOT has indicated that it is aware of the road closure and is considering the Kebler and 133 closures north of Paonia (also due to major roadway damage) in its traffic management on the Western Slope. 

Schmidt said Kebler is certainly the worst of the damaged areas within the Gunnison Valley, but not the only one.

“We have had rock and mud slides on multiple roads and washouts that have stripped gravel from the roads, but nothing else that gets close to the size of the Kebler damage. We are working on all the winter impacts as well as performing summer grading and are stretched thin. While there are multiple issues that are being addressed, we are lucky to have a skilled staff that are able to remedy the problems in a timely and professional way,” he said.

Check Also

Brief: Court

By Katherine Nettles Wickenhauser sentenced to four years in community corrections facility Gunnison Valley resident …