An often treacherous and muddy network of county roads on Cottonwood Pass between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum where deaths have occurred is the subject of a coalition between state and county authorities to improve safety.
The Unofficial Bypass is a series of unpaved county roads that connect cities and have been used for decades by locals wishing to bypass Glenwood Canyon as well as access National Forests.
Although the pass is closed in the winter, increased commuter traffic to and from the Vail-Beaver Creek-Eagle area has raised safety concerns on the narrow, winding and steep roads, particularly on the side east of Eagle County. Some sections are completely impassable when wet and road openings may be delayed in the spring until the snow has melted.
With Glenwood Canyon frequently closed due to the danger of mud and rockslides during storm season, locals familiar with the undesignated route use the Cottonwood Pass even more frequently.
The Colorado Department of Transportation and Eagle and Garfield Counties are seeking public input on conceptual designs to improve safety on the pass. CDOT is looking at 14 identified locations – six in Eagle County and eight in Garfield County. These locations were selected by the counties based on known security issues.
The conceptual design is expected to be completed in early 2023. Counties will complete the design and assess the construction of the upgrades as funding becomes available.
“CDOT is extremely responsive to the needs of our partner agencies who manage these routes,” said Region 3 Transportation Manager Jason Smith. “We look forward to hearing feedback at these meetings.”
Two public open house meetings are planned to present the project and gather feedback on the desired improvements and design options. The same information will be posted at each meeting and project staff will be available to answer questions. Community members are encouraged to choose the open house option that best suits them:
Tuesday, July 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Glenwood Springs at the Glenwood Springs Community Center;
Wednesday, July 20 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Gypsum City Hall Council Chambers, 50 Lundgren Boulevard.
Information will be available on the project webpage after the meetings. Comments can be submitted at any time via an online feedback form. To view graphics, submit comments, or to join the project mailing list, visit codot.gov/projects/cottonwood-pass-concept-design.