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U.S. 24 through Ute Pass reopens after storm

By Scott Harrison
Published On: Aug 23 2013 04:16:26 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 23 2013 01:17:47 PM CDT

Drivers relieved there was no flooding, but frustrated by long wait for roadblock to end.

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. -

Authorities said they're getting better at responding quickly to closing U.S. 24 through Ute Pass during a flash flood warning.

The highway closed around 6 p.m. Thursday when storms threatened the area.  There was no flooding there and the highway reopened around 11:30 p.m.

Authorities said they've learned from previous floods after the Waldo Canyon fire, that they need to act quickly to prevent injuries, deaths and vehicles being swept away.

Cpl. Ryan Novotni, of the Colorado State Patrol, said he's happy to see that drivers are becoming more patient, understanding and cooperative during the closures.

"As soon as we pulled out the patrol cars, the traffic traveling westbound knew what was happening, and they actually started u-turning before we even had to tell them exactly what was going on," he said.  "So it's good that the public is realizing when we're out here, what needs to be done."

While many drivers waited near the roadblock for it to reopen, other drivers chose to take detours that lasted from one to two hours. 

Michelle Thomas, of Woodland Park, wanted to get home to her two children but said she didn't feel safe taking a detour.  She also confessed to having mixed feelings about the roadblock.

"Yes, I am kind of glad that we're better be safe that sorry," said Thomas.  "But at the same time, we've all sat here for hours and we haven't moved, and we're just now starting to get rain."

Novotni says drivers should be prepared for a roadblock at any time -- and for indefinite periods -- during threatening weather in Ute Pass.

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