Drive with care this spring on Utah’s high mountain roads.
High alpine pass roads in Utah, used primarily to gain access to recreation areas, are closed during the winter months. UDOT crews aim to have those roads open by Memorial Day for people who take advantage of the long holiday weekend. But with the high snowfall this winter and spring, some roads have opened late and some are still closed.
SR-39 in Monte Cristo east of Ogden has just opened but the area is still snowy. Most roads will be open by late June. Until then then, don’t jump the gun!
What people don’t realize is that crews may have a lot of work to do in order to get the road ready for motorists. For example, SR-39 was snow packed, and deep, unstable snow drifts blocked the road. Crews needed time to clear the snow.
It’s also common for snowfall to cause landslides so that trees, rocks and dirt block the road. Crews need time to repair damage to roads and bridges, remove snow and debris and clear drainage systems so water and debris won’t back up on the road before the route can be opened.
Motorists who ignore road signs put themselves and others at risk. “Some people just blatantly disregard the ROAD CLOSED signs and stumble into the middle of our efforts to repair landslides and frankly, startle the crews running heavy equipment at these sites,” says Vic Saunders, Public Information Manager at UDOT Region One. He urges motorists to stay off of closed roads. “Following this advice can keep road openings happy events not marred by an accident involving overeager alpine enthusiasts.”
Even though flowers are blooming in valleys below, motorists should be ready for some snowy patches on some open mountain roads. And always obey all signs. Before traveling on high mountain roads, check CommuterLink. UDOT’s TOC maintains a Seasonal State Route Closure List. Another information source is UDOT’s Road Conditions page online or call toll-free 866-511-UTAH (8824).