A Colorado Department of Transportation map of proposed improvements on Cottonwood Pass.

CDOT presents options on Cottonwood Pass

Eight locations in Garfield County slated for improvements

September 21, 2023

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has outlined several options for improving safety on the Garfield County side of Cottonwood Pass, with most taking place along Catherine Store Road. Region 3 CDOT staff presented the Board of County Commissioners with updates on short-term improvement projects on Cottonwood Pass to improve the rural roadway connecting Eagle and Garfield counties.

There are currently 14 areas slated for improvement on Cottonwood Pass, with eight projects located in Garfield County. These include defining right of way impacts, smoothing curves, widening sections of the road, and improving sight distance. The rural stretch of road connects Gypsum with Highway 82 near Carbondale and is often used in summer as a local detour when Interstate 70 is closed through Glenwood Canyon.

Karen Berdoulay, CDOT Region 3 program engineer, told the board that CDOT established four core goals for Cottonwood Pass: improve safety; respect the corridor’s rural character and minimize impacts to private property; preserve wildlife habitat and waterways; and engage the public by seeking feedback throughout the entire process.

“We’ve worked very closely with both counties and based on some known safety issues, we were able to define six areas in Eagle County and eight in Garfield where there were consistent safety challenges along Cottonwood Pass,” she said. “We dove into traffic and safety evaluations to better understand why there were safety incidents in these different locations.”

Berdoulay added that CDOT evaluated high-level geo-technical analyses to understand potential challenges to construction work in the 14 selected locations, conducted environmental evaluations, and looked at design options for each area of concern.

“We used CDOT’s I-70 contact sensitive solutions process, which seeks feedback from stakeholders early on, helping us to guide decision making so we can provide information to the counties,” she added.

CDOT continues to identify and apply for grants to help cover construction funding for the project. Berdoulay noted that improvements to the Blue Hill section of Cottonwood Pass Road in Eagle County is estimated to cost $60 million and would be being broken up into three phases.

“Our priority here is to support Eagle County on Blue Hill,” said Commissioner Tom Jankovsky. “Until that happens, Cottonwood Pass remains as it is today. The first improvements need to happen in Eagle County.”

The Draft Concept Design Report and more information is currently available on CDOT’s project web page, and the final report will be posted there at a later date.