Kebler Pass Road a no-go for this weekend

Cottonwood, Gothic will open Friday

By Katherine Nettles

Despite its best efforts, Gunnison County Public Works has said it will not open Kebler Pass Road west of Crested Butte in time for Memorial Day weekend. However, Cottonwood Pass, a paved road, will be ready to open on Friday and crews report that Gothic Road has been drying out well enough to open on Friday as well. 

As for Kebler, public works crews have cleared several feet of snow and more than a dozen fallen trees from the road in recent weeks, made vital culvert repairs and started to make progress on getting the roadway dry enough to apply gravel and magnesium chloride. But the inclement weather returned again this week to wreak further havoc on progress being made to get the road ready for traffic.

Gunnison County public works director Martin Schmidt said on Tuesday, May 21, that Tuesday’s storm was the final factor in pushing the road opening back. 

“This storm brought heavier than expected precipitation. We had over six inches of snow on the top and heavy rainfall on the remainder of the road. It returned several spots of the pass to a four-wheel-drive experience,” said Schmidt. “Additionally, we had to cancel two days of chloride application and are struggling to get back on the applicator schedule.” 

It is not clear when Kebler will open, but Schmidt said that the county’s early efforts and the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) help and allowing the county use of their commercial snow blowers have certainly gotten the road closer to opening than it would otherwise have been. “Normally we would have had to wait for the road to simply melt out,” said Schmidt. 

CDOT has offered assistance this year to facilitate another route west of Gunnison County since it closed the Highway 50 Middle Bridge between Gunnison and Montrose for safety concerns in mid-April.  

Meanwhile, Cottonwood Pass Road will open on Friday, May 24 as expected, an easier task since it is a paved road. “Cottonwood is looking good for being open Friday morning,” confirmed Schmidt. There will likely be high snowbanks on either side, a testament to the work it takes to clear even a paved road at high altitude under spring conditions. 

Gothic Road is also expected to open Friday morning. There is still snow past the town site of Gothic, but Schmidt said it has been drying nicely. 

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