Travelers will have to take the long way around to get to Crested Butte this summer rather than taking the beautiful, scenic route over Cottonwood Pass. The west side of County Road 209 (Cottonwood Pass) will be closed for safety improvements and its first ever coat of asphalt. Increased traffic over the years has warranted these improvements which are expected to potentially last into the 2018 construction season. Some of these “improvements” include adding drainage, improving visibility and widening of the road to create a uniform 24-foot roadway; two 11-foot-wide paved lanes with one-foot-wide paved shoulders on each side. Some of the switchbacks at the top of the pass will be realigned which will reduce the road distance from 13.9 miles to 12.5 miles. It was discussed at a meeting in November, whether or not the road should be kept open during construction by breaking up the roadwork into smaller portions. This would have meant long delays and daytime closures on the pass. It was determined that not only would it be costly to hire traffic control crews, it would be difficult to spread the word about the daytime closures to visitors. The additional work that would be required to keep the pass open to drivers would also add cost and time to the project. Without these added costs, paving and widening the uppermost 12.5 miles of County Road 209 this side of Cottonwood Pass will cost Gunnison County $1,491,325 between 2016 and 2019. So make note that Cottonwood Pass, County Road 209, will be closed from the Taylor Reservoir to the top of the pass for the 2017 construction season which lasts from May to September and most of the 2018 season as well (or as long as it takes to complete the project).
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