Highway construction on Cottonwood Pass Road began Monday, May 21, at the road’s junction with CR 321. Those using the road during summer months can expect traffic delays of 10 to 20 minutes between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Construction will continue 18.5 miles to the summit and include work on two bridges, the Denny Creek Bridge and the Middle Cottonwood Creek Bridge. The project is a collaboration between the Federal Highway Administration, Central Federal Lands Highway Division, Chaffee County, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Pike and San Isabel National Forest Division. Construction has been preceded by erosion control and land surveying work.
People concerned about access to Cottonwood Lake as the busy recreation season approaches need not worry, says Jordan Williams, FHA public information officer. Access to businesses along CR 306 and the lake via the Avalanche Trailhead parking lot will be maintained.
Construction will widen the shoulders on both sides of the road from CR 342 to CR 321. Initial construction will focus on shoulder-widening going west, and the road will be open to the Holy Water parking area during the beginning of construction. Williams said the top half-mile of road will see major construction, including shifting the road into the cut slope to avoid an embankment failure slip-out, the replacement of failing guard rails and creation of a rock fall storage area.
Avalanche Trailhead will be closed for awhile during construction, but that date has not been set, Williams said. Hikers on the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail can continue to use the trails, although the exit from the Continental Divide trail will be closed.
For information on construction progress and trail and road closures, visit www.cottonwood-co.dot.gov/.