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Avalanche Mitigation On Independence Pass Makes For An Exciting Show

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An avalanche is set along Independence Pass on Monday. (credit: CBS)

An avalanche is set along Independence Pass on Monday. (credit: CBS)

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INDEPENDENCE PASS, Colo. (CBS4) – Crews with the Colorado Department of Transportation are getting some extra help in their effort to get Independence Pass cleared for the summer.

Officials brought in a helicopter Monday to attack the possible avalanche threats to drivers by air. They also came with more than 40 bombs to target snow slide areas and chunks of ice that built up over the road.

“The two things we worry about here are avalanches running down and hitting the road and large chunks of the cornice rolling down and hitting the road,” said Colorado Avalanche Information Center spokesman Ethan Greene. “Highway 82 over Independence Pass has the highest avalanche rating of any highway in Colorado.”

As they get that avalanche risk mitigated, CDOT will then hit the pass on the ground, using bulldozers, loaders and snow plows to get the road clear for the busy Memorial Day weekend.

“Mother Nature is in complete control of the situation we’re trying to just do the control work so we can get it open for the public,” said CDOT equipment manager Jack Stieber. “We were hoping to shoot last week but the weather conditions didn’t work for us, we’ve been getting a lot of snow lately.”

Last week during one storm 10 inches fell at the top of the pass.

Highway 82 runs from Aspen over Independence Pass and to the Leadville-Buena Vista area. It usually stays open through November but it has periodic closures during the fall.

LINK: Independence Pass

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