‘Maybe I missed the memo’: CDOT clarifies that local commuters will be allowed through Hoosier Pass closure

The Colorado Department of Transportation acknowledged miscommunication about the project but said commuters are now being allowed through the local detour

Workers engage in construction activities on a chain station north of Alma along Colorado Highway 9 on June 22, 2023. An separate construction project on Colorado Highway 9 has led to a local detour for commuters through a week-long closure on the highway this September.
Steven Josephson/Summit Daily News

A shorter detour will be available to Summit County and Park County residents during an ongoing closure on Colorado Highway 9 at the southern base of Hoosier Pass, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

A miscommunication with the traffic control company led some local commuters to be turned around for about an hour Friday morning, Sept. 8, transportation department spokesperson Bob Wilson said that afternoon.

“For the next six days for this closure, residents of Park County and residents of Summit County will be able to get through on the local detour route, and all others will have to take the longer detour route,” Wilson clarified.

The closure — which started at 6 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, and will continue through 6 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 14 — is required to replace an 85-year-old bridge over the Middle Fork of the South Platte River near Alma, according to CDOT.

A traffic control company will be stationed at the closure asking drivers where they are headed, Wilson said. Only commuters who live in Park or Summit counties will be allowed through the local detour over County Roads 4 and 6, he said. Commercial vehicles and trucks will not be allowed through.

Other traffic, such as those traveling from Steamboat Springs to Colorado Springs, will also have to take the longer detour through Buena Vista and Leadville, taking U.S. Highway 285, U.S. Highway 24, Colorado Highway 91 and Interstate 70, Wilson said.

A map from the Colorado Department of Transporation shows the detour route for the closure of Colorado Highway 9 near Hoosier Pass that begins Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023.
Colorado Department of Transportation/Courtesy illustration

The seven-day, full closure is necessary to allow the contractor to get in and out of the area in minimal time, Wilson said. The full closure is “preferable” to keeping the highway open, which would require approximately 90 days of one-lane alternating traffic, he added.

“We are aware that a lot of people live in Park County that work in Summit County, so we needed to keep that open for people that would be impacted the most,” Wilson said.

Still, from about 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. Friday, some commuters got turned away from the local detour when a shift change for the traffic control company led to confusion about what “local” meant, Wilson said. 

In a Facebook group where locals share travel conditions through Hoosier Pass, commuters expressed frustration with communication from the Colorado Department of Transportation about the closure. Some raised concerns that their livelihood relies on the commute, while others noted high gas costs.

“I want people to be aware this was a miscommunication regarding the local commuters,” Wilson said. “We were dealing with a traffic control company.”

But Wilson acknowledged he was also confused about who would be let through the closure. He said he only found out Friday that the local detour also applied to commuters between Summit and Park counties.

Last month, Wilson told Summit Daily that only local residents living in the subdivision near the closure, the Summit Stage bus and emergency vehicles would be allowed to detour over the county roads.

That was an error caused by a “communication breakdown” between himself and the project team, Wilson said Friday.

“I was mistaken as well. I was under the impression it was going to be even the commuters that were impacted,” Wilson said. “Maybe I missed the memo, but that is why I was trying to clarify this morning.”

During the closure, there will be increased traffic on County Roads 4 and 6 due to the local detour, Wilson said, so commuters should drive safely and prepare for potential delays. The Park County Sheriff’s Office is strictly enforcing speed limits in the area and will have an increased presence in the area, he said.

Major road closures like this can have a lot of moving pieces, so breakdowns in communication occasionally happen, Wilson said, adding that the department of transportation works to learn from its mistakes.

“Whenever something like this happens, we always go back through our plan and see exactly what occurred to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.