By Kelly Werthmann
IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – The Colorado Department of Transportation says it’s planning on opening the popular Mount Evans Road by Memorial Day weekend.
The road leads to Mount Evans, one of Colorado’s 14ers. The road to Summit Lake will open first and the snow on the final five miles to the summit will be cleared later.
No matter which way you look, the views are breathtaking from the Mount Evans Highway.
Lucky for Kyle Cordova, a transportation maintenance supervisor with the Colorado Department of Transportation, he gets to soak up Colorado’s Rocky Mountain beauty nearly every day.
“It’s incredible – the views, the animals, everything,” he said. “Being up here for work is a bonus because we can be up here by ourselves and check everything out that we want.”
This is Cordova’s first season helping clear the scenic drive. Mt. Evans Highway is closed through the winter – some spots had 20 foot snow drifts, Cordova said.
“Clearing the road is definitely an adrenaline rush. It’s pretty cool and kind of nerve-racking, too,” he told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann of being surrounded by the wall of snow carved by the plows. “You’re just hoping to God that not a weak layer of snow comes down on you.”
Plowing the 14-mile highway typically takes three to four weeks. This year, however, the springtime routine is ahead of the curve.
“There’s not too much snow up here,” Cordova explained. “With this past storm we had, we did get more snow, so there’s about three to four foot drifts at the top. We had to clear everything back off that we cleared before.”
It took crews just about two weeks to clear all the snow off the highway. They are now putting the finishing touches on the road to open it up just in time for Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s definitely a beat up road,” Cordova said.
Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to hit the highest paved highway in North America this summer. That’s why crews are making the much-needed repairs now and making space for people to explore.
“Coming up here the road is very narrow, so there’s not very many places to pull off without being in the way of other people coming up,” Cordova said. “Right now we’re paving the middle parking lot so people can park and walk around and check out the views.”
It is a view Cordova has enjoyed for the last few weeks and hopes to help take care of for many seasons to come.
“Just to be able to keep this road going so we can all come up here and enjoy this,” he said.
CDOT says Mt. Evans Highway will open to the public on Friday, May 25.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.