DENVER (KDVR) – With Colorado’s main east-to-west highway cut off at Glenwood Canyon, state officials are trying to get drivers to stop getting creative with detours.
I-70 remains closed indefinitely due to heavy damage and debris from mudslides. The recommended detour takes drivers up through Steamboat Springs to get to Glenwood Springs from the east. It adds several hours to the drive.
“Plan to have at least two, three, four hours extra that you’re going to be stuck in these detours,” Colorado State Patrol Corporal Ivan Alvarado told FOX31.
Some drivers are now trying to bypass the recommended detour by taking dirt roads and narrow mountain passes.
Independence Pass became so heavily traveled this week, CDOT marked it as closed temporarily on cotrip.org, Google Maps and Apple Maps in order “to prevent I-70 detour traffic from being routed onto that rural, challenging mountain highway with limited cell service,” Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said.
“With Google Maps, it makes it easy for everybody to be able to look up those detours themselves,” Alvarado said.
CSP is now trying to warn drivers: even if you can take a shortcut, it does not always mean you should.
“It could be better but you could also get stuck,” Alvarado said. “You could then be looking at even longer detours, longer wait times…You could be looking at crashes. You could be looking at road closures just because of these people trying to desperately get around this.”
“It seems like this time, it was a ridiculous amount of traffic on it,” Colorado resident Connie Elstun told FOX31.
She drove the pass on Monday and says it was the most cars she had ever seen on it at once. However, she says it was even more surprising to see the number of prohibited vehicles attempting to drive the pass anyway.
“We passed approximately three different places before we actually got on the pass that said that you cannot bring a vehicle longer than 35 feet across, and it seemed like that just went in one ear and out the other,” Elstun said. “We had people who had huge trailers way longer than 35 feet. They were never going to get through the narrows.”
“If you want to put yourself at risk going on these dirt roads and these windy mountain roads, I would definitely suggest not to,” Alvarado said.
His best advice is to stay home or stick to maintained highways that are paved, have services and are better equipped to handle an increased volume of traffic.
“The reality is, it’s not going to make up for how easy it was to get to Glenwood Springs,” he said.