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Cottonwood Pass, after a few years of intermittent construction, is opening to traffic on Aug. 12, 2019, but travelers should be aware that portions of the road are yet to be paved.

The east end of the pass has been open to traffic for a few months. It has been the west end, in Gunnison County, that has remained closed. The porject is funded by the Federal Lands Access Program (known as FLAP).  It was established to improve transportation facilities that provide access to, are adjacent to, or are located within federal lands. The Access Program supplements State and local resources for public roads, transit systems, and other transportation facilities, with an emphasis on high-use recreation sites and economic generators.

The Access Program is funded by contract authority from the Highway Trust Fund and subject to obligation limitation. Funds are allocated among the States using a statutory formula based on road mileage, number of bridges, land area, and visitation.

“Cottonwood Pass [will] open on [Aug.] 12,” said Chaffee County Commissioner Keith Baker. “Though, the work on the west side is not complete.”

Baker explained that Kirkland Construction, the contractor handling the project had requested an extension from Gunnison County to continue working on the road without traffic on it. However, the Gunnison County Commissioners deemed it was time for traffic to continue using the pass and denied the contractor’s request.

Baker reminds motorists that construction is ongoing on the west side of the pass. As a result, travel times may be slower than usual.

“Work will continue, and there will be traffic control in place,” said Baker, “so motorists should be aware of typical construction delays.”