Locals Worry About Cottonwood Pass Being Considered As OptionBy Spencer Wilson

(CBS4)– The Colorado Department of Transportation is still working to fix I-70 in parts after massive flooding moved tons of mud and rock into the road in Glenwood Canyon last year, making it impossible for drivers to make it through. Now, talks about the backup plan for this summer are starting to heat up, as we move closer to the rainier season and the potential for additional closures through the canyon.

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On Monday Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, introduced the I-70 Detour Act to require the Department of Transportation to study viable local solutions to offset harmful I-70 closures and subsequently fund those important fixes and alternatives once the best solutions have been determined. Locals are concerned that could end up being Cottonwood Pass, as drivers have used it as a relief valve whenever I-70 closed last year.

Chris Huffman has lived near Cottonwood Pass in Gypsum for years. He’s seen the kind of traffic disaster it can become if semi trucks decide they’ll try the pass to get around I-70.

“It’s a zoo,” Huffman said.

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He agrees something needs to be done to help alleviate the pressure, and he knows Cottonwood Pass seems like the logical choice for a bypass, but he’s worried if people relied on it for anything more than an emergency, it could become a real issue the road isn’t prepared for.

“Once they start looking at improving across this I believe that people will believe this is the direct route to Aspen rather than going through the canyon, through Glenwood and then back up,” Huffman said, motioning with his hands.

Right now Boebert’s I-70 Detour Act is not singling out any particular road, but according to her team, they have talked with several local leaders about potential routes and where to start, including in Eagle County.

For Huffman’s money, he’s fine to look further into if Cottonwood Is the best option, but he expects they might find something that might work better for the town of Gypsum and the drivers on I-70.

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“Do we want all that traffic going through a little town that really doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle it? Or do we want to see if there is a logical way to bypass and make everything easier for everyone?” Huffman asked.

Spencer Wilson