Some of Colorado’s most popular mountain roads will not be open to travelers as usual this Memorial Day weekend as counties try to curb the number of tourists who could potentially spread the novel coronavirus.
Mount Evans Highway, Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park and Independence Pass between Aspen and Twin Lakes will remain closed, according to a Colorado Department of Transportation news release. Decisions to keep some roads closed were made in coordination with county governments, the U.S. Forest Service and National Parks Service, Bob Wilson, a CDOT spokesman, said.
That was the case with Mount Evans Highway, the highest paved road in North America that goes to the mountain’s peak and draws thousands of tourists every summer. The forest service and Clear Creek County officials asked CDOT to keep the road closed a little longer, Wilson said.
“In order to keep the number of people coming into the county at a minimum, they have asked us to keep it closed,” he said.
Independence Pass is cleared of snow, but Lake and Pitkin county officials also wanted to delay the opening for health reasons, Wilson said. He noted that Colorado’s mountain communities were among the first to report coronavirus cases, and officials did not want to see an increase at the start of the summer travel season.
“That was done at the request of those counties to keep tourist numbers down,” he said.
While CDOT doesn’t control Trail Ridge Road, the National Park Service and the town of Estes Park also wanted it to remain closed until further notice and asked CDOT to help spread the word.
CDOT encouraged Colorado residents to follow public health orders and be responsible while using the state’s outdoor recreation sites to avoid the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
Even with lighter traffic expected, CDOT will suspend construction projects, beginning at noon Friday through Tuesday morning, the news release said.
The seasonal roadway schedule with delayed openings includes the following:
- Mount Evans Highway, also known as Colorado 5, will open in early July.
- Independence Pass, also known as Colorado 82, will open June 1.
- Trail Ridge Road between Estes Park and Grand Lake will open at a date to be determined.
- Guanella Pass between Georgetown and Grant will open at a date to be determined.
- Kebler Pass between Crested Butte and Paonia will open Thursday.
- Cottonwood Pass between Buena Vista and Gunnison County will open June 1.
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