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Couples Hope For The Best As Avalanche Debris Is Cleared From Popular Wedding Venue

ASPEN, Colo. (CBS4) - Bride-to-be Heather Becker is in the middle of a roller coaster of emotions, not because of the usual wedding planning issues, but because her venue has changed three times. It's all thanks to the Colorado's most recent historic avalanche season.

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CBS4's Matt Kroschel interviews Heather Becker. (credit: CBS)

Tuesday morning, Becker was one of the 16 wedding couples scrambling to find a new wedding location because she had been told the venue she reserved wouldn't be open in time. Originally, partners thought the opening may be delayed to June 15.

Maroon Bells 1 (USFS Shelly Grail)
(credit: USFS/Shelly Grail)

But then came an amazing update Tuesday afternoon.

Crews made great progress clearing debris blocking Maroon Creek Road. It delayed the opening of the Maroon Bells Scenic Area this spring. The area is a popular destination for June weddings and other activities.

Now, crews hope to have the area opened by May 24.

Maroon Bells 3 (USFS Shelly Grail)
(credit: USFS/Shelly Grail)

"We have spent the last two weeks working hard to clear the road," said Pitkin County Road and Bridge Manager, Scott Mattice. "Even with available staff and equipment focused on getting the road open as quickly as possible, it isn't realistic for us to think we can match our mid-May opening of last year. Right now, May 24 is most realistic."

Crews started clearing Maroon Creek Road at the beginning of May. Crews were met with compact snow, ice and debris, sheared-off trees and boulders all requiring heavy equipment and long hours.

The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District tells people with reservations for early June events to expect winter conditions at Maroon Lake and for all visiting the area to expect significant snow on the surrounding trails.

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(credit: CBS)

Crews say the new tentative opening date does not impact amphitheater wedding reservations like they previously thought.

"The outdoors has really always been my church," Becker said. "There's still a part of me that hopes the (Maroon) Bells will open and we'll at least get to get up there for pictures or showcase that area to our families."

While Maroon Creek Road should be open in time for Memorial Day, the Forest Service will not be providing any services at the Scenic Area until the beginning of June.

Maroon Bells, Dave Wille
The Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake, fall of 2016. (credit: Dave Wille)

Work to clear the area will continue, and signs are posted at the road closure gate on Maroon Creek Road warning the public to stay clear of the heavy equipment.

"We'll be able to focus on getting the road open. If we don't, (we) have to worry about people walking or biking where we're working," Mattice said.

Pitkin County Road and Bridge and the Forest Service will post updates about road-clearing progress and projected openings in the coming weeks.

Roaring Fork Transportation Authority shuttles will begin operation on June 15.


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