The Colorado Department of Transportation is working on a new system to keep semis off of Independence Pass after increased signage and higher fines have proven to be ineffective — but their efforts may be too little, too late, to prevent a big rig mess in late August.
CDOT Says Signs And Fines Don’t Keep Trucks Off Independence Pass
CDOT says that truck traffic on the two lane pass through the Rocky Mountains has been an increasing problem because truck drivers are paying more attention to their GPS devices than signage that forbids trucks on Independence Pass. Colorado transportation officials increased the fine for driving a big rig on the pass to $1,500, but this has not made much of a difference in keeping trucks away from the pass. Last summer during a single day when Glenwood Canyon was closed down, police had to turn around more than 20 trucks.
New System Uses Flashing Lights And Electric Signs To Alert Drivers
To combat the problem, CDOT in conjunction with Pitkin County will be working over the summer to install a system that can detect a vehicle longer than 35 feet. If big rig is detected, beacon lights will flash to get the driver’s attention and an electronic messaging sign will signal that an oversized vehicle has been detected. A second electronic sign will inform the driver that he or she must turn around at a designated area ahead on Highway 82.
The new system will cost about half a million dollars.
Earlier plans called for the construction of a chicane — a manufactured tight S-curve designed to mimic the tight turns of Independence Pass — but these plans were scrapped. The chicane was at one point considered to be an essential part of the new system
System Won’t Be In Place By The Time Grand Avenue Bridge Closes
Colorado transportation officials are worried that the new system will be too little, too late, to prevent what executive director Karin Teague of the Independence Pass Foundation referred to as “a complete cluster.”
That’s because the new system won’t be finished until late August or early September. The Grand Avenue Bridge in Glenwood Springs will shut down for 95 days starting on August 14, so CDOT predicts a glut of truck traffic caused by drivers who rely on their GPS. “We’re anticipating a huge increase in use of the pass,” said Teague.
The Grand Avenue Bridge closure is expected to cause serious traffic delays in the area.