Traffic plan for Indy Pass when I-70 closes topic for local law enforcement, transportation officials
Monday traffic jams on Independence Pass and Aspen due to the closure of Glenwood Canyon will require a reassessment by authorities so that the nightmare does not occur when the canyon inevitably closes.
That’s according to Parker Lathrop, director of operations for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, who, along with Deputy Sheriff Alex Burchetta, spent five hours directing traffic Monday in the Lower Narrows section of the pass.
“We’re just seeing more traffic than we’ve ever seen on the pass,” Lathrop said Tuesday. “Then with (Interstate-70) closed, it was a perfect storm.”
A conference call involving the Sheriff’s Office, Aspen Police, Colorado State Patrol and Colorado Department of Transportation will likely take place in the next few days when those involved discuss what worked and what. which did not operate Monday in the upper Roaring Fork Valley, he said.
Glenwood Canyon has closed frequently in recent years for rock falls, wildfires and now mudslides, and there is no reason to believe this trend will not continue. This is why it is essential to refine the pass policing plan when the freeway closes and drivers of oversized vehicles inevitably ignore 35ft limit signs, attempt to drive the pass and cause major problems, a said Lathrop.
The weather forecast for the remainder of the week in Glenwood Springs calls for rain.
“(Another shutdown) could take place tomorrow,” Lathrop said.
The main problems Monday on Independence Pass began around 1:30 p.m. when a large pickup truck towing a large trailer, which was over the 35-foot limit, knocked one of the trailer’s wheels off the section side. Lower Narrows and was centered at the top. the trailer over rocks, Lathrop said. This blocked the road and created a traffic jam that easily trapped hundreds of cars.
When Lathrop finally arrived at the scene, he told the truck driver that he should unhitch the trailer and leave it until the traffic was clear, but the driver refused to do so, Lathrop said. Instead, the man pulled on the pickup engine and dragged the trailer over the rocks.
“Once he moved there was a traffic jam of cars that had to pass,” he said. “There were miles of backup on both sides.”
Although the Colorado Department of Transportation officially closed the road, it was never closed, Lathrop said. Law enforcement initially thought the Pass should be closed to deal with the stuck trailer.
The two narrow sections of the road caused the main problems on Monday. At around 3 p.m., an eastbound driver of a Toyota Tacoma apparently froze in the middle of the Upper Narrows section and caused a traffic jam of about 250 cars that could not move while the westbound lanes were continuing to move to the Lower Narrows, where Lathrop and Burchetta had to direct traffic to facilitate backups.
In addition to the headaches, a broken down motorhome near the Caves, which also caused traffic problems, Lathrop said.
In town, sheriff’s assistants rotated many semi-trucks near the Mountain Rescue Aspen building across from the airport, while officers from the Aspen Police Department did the same for semi-trailers that were driven. slipped and tried to climb the Independence Pass.
Then came rush hour in downtown Aspen.
Since the eastbound and westbound lanes of I-70 were closed most of Monday, the huge lines of traffic on the pass and through Aspen went both ways.
“It’s usually one direction,” Aspen Deputy Police Chief Bill Linn said. “This time it was two ways of insanity.”
This meant that the growing line of westbound pass traffic merged with Aspen’s usual rush hour traffic trying to leave town, creating massive traffic jams on Highway 82 through town, a he declared.
“It was the worst traffic I have ever seen,” Linn said. “(Westbound traffic) has been saved (past the roundabout) to McSkimming Road.”
Aspen officers did not allow traffic to turn left into Aspen at the Cemetery Lane intersection and ordered downstream traffic to use the bus lane after the roundabout in an effort to reduce some of the congestion, he said.
“The volume of traffic was just off the charts,” Linn said.
Finally, Colorado State Patrol and Sheriff’s Deputies faced an impaired driving accident at the intersection of Highway 82 and Smith Hill Road, which also compounded the issues, Lathrop said.
Once the eastbound lanes of 1-70 through Glenwood Canyon opened around 3 p.m., the volume of traffic quickly declined, Lathrop said. I-70 westbound lanes were opened shortly thereafter.
The sheriff’s office issued two oversized vehicle tickets, while the CSP wrote another, Lathrop said. Tickets cost drivers between $ 1,100 and $ 1,200.
One of the main issues was the Lake County side of the pass, where there was no one to stop oversized traffic or the parked agency was only stopping commercial traffic and not blocking RVs and oversized trucks. pulling trailers to cross the pass, Lathrop mentioned.