Independence Pass to open Thursday, part of Mount Evans Road on Friday

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CDOT crews work to clear Colorado State Highway 82 over Independence Pass on Monday, May 19, 2014, just three days before the highway was scheduled to open. (Credit: CDOT)

INDEPENDENCE PASS, Colo. — Colorado State Highway 82 over Independence Pass in Lake and Pitkin counties will open at noon Thursday, two hours ahead of schedule, the Colorado Department of Transportation said.

CDOT targets the Thursday before Memorial Day as the opening date of the scenic highway that connects Aspen and Leadville.

Crews began working to clear the 12,095-foot pass three weeks ago, encountering up to 30-foot snow drifts. Besides using Snow Cats, CDOT crews used blowers, graders, dozers, loaders and helicopters for avalanche control missions. But

Crews also reset barriers, repaired and replaced signs and repaired potholes.

Other passes opening in time for the holiday weekend are Kebler Pass (Thursday), Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park (Friday), Guanella Pass (Friday) and Cottonwood Pass (Friday).

CDOT crews will open a portion of Mount Evans Road on Friday, May 23, 2014. (Credit: CDOT)

CDOT crews will open a portion of Mount Evans Road on Friday, May 23, 2014. (Credit: CDOT)

Also on Friday,  Mount Evans Road will open despite heavy snow in the past several weeks. The road will open only to Summit Lake at about 9 a.m., CDOT said. The rest of the 14-mile stretch should open in the next week.

Because of the high abundance of snow that still needs to melt, the passes could close temporarily because of adverse conditions. Visit for the latest travel alerts and road conditions.

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