Colorado to big trucks: Stay off Independence Pass

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/3/2014

A bill nearing passage at the Colorado statehouse would boost the deterrent for drivers of large vehicles who illegally attempt to cross Independence Pass.

Colorado law prohibits oversize and overweight vehicles – including vehicles or combination vehicles longer than 35 feet, regardless of size – from using the pass that connects Twin Lakes and Aspen. There are signs on each side of the pass, which is typically open for six months each year from Memorial Day through mid-November, indicating the restriction.

Violators face fines of $500.

Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, told senators on Monday, March 3, during floor discussion on the bill that action is necessary to get the attention of some truckers who consider the existing fines to be the cost of doing business in order to save time.

“Even though we have 13 signs that say ‘don’t go up on the pass,’ we are finding that we might have to discourage them with an additional fine,” Schwartz said.

HB1021 would boost the punishment for prohibited trucks and RVs found on state Highway 82 between U.S. 24 and the city of Aspen. Fines would increase from $500 to $1,000. Violations that result in closures would increase the fine to $1,500.

A provision to add two license suspension points was removed in the House.

Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, said he is opposed to the stiffer fines.

“It sends a message out to the trucking industry that Colorado is not in the market to do business with them,” Crowder said. “If anything, on this particular bill we should be trying to lower the fines because of how valuable the trucking industry is to the state.”

Many truckers, including Owner-operator and OOIDA Life Member Jack McComb of Littleton, Colo., say they welcome stiff punishment for wayward truckers. McComb said there is no excuse for a trucker to miss the posted signs alerting truckers to stay off the pass.

The bill awaits a final Senate floor vote before moving to the governor’s desk. House lawmakers already approved it on a 41-23 vote.

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