Frustration brewing for fall foliage fans
~ by Rick Langenberg ~
The price of infrastructure progress is posing some definite tough adjustments for Cripple Creek gamblers, visitors, recreation buffs, aspen tree lovers and locals.
In fact, if you are planning any Hwy. 67 trips during the week, you may want to alter your plans, or consider alternate routes. And for fall foliage viewers, consider postponing your trip until the weekend, or get ready to be stopped. The ongoing work has provided a hassle for those desiring to check out the changing aspen tree/leaf colors in one of the most scenic autumn locations in the region.
Or, as some county leaders advise, plan for a probable 20-minute delay during your trip.
The $10.4 million Hwy. 67 road improvement project is still moving full-speed ahead, with no signs of a letdown or any delays in work. Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) officials hope to complete the project prior to the end of the year. But in order to meet this deadline, construction crews are running against the clock, especially for the lion’s share of the project, the 13-mile stretch between Divide and Cripple Creek. The project hit a few minor weather-related setbacks during an extremely wet August.
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, the forthcoming week will continue to feature delays for the Divide to Cripple Creek Hwy. 67 portion Monday through Thursday. The bulk of the delays will occur near the Mueller State Park area, between mile markers 67 to 62, according to a CDOT map.
Section of the road, bordering Cripple Creek, won’t face many impacts this week.
A pilot car will be available to direct vehicle through a single lane route, where the paving and infrastructure work is occurring. And in par with previous construction rules, a 12-foot vehicle restriction remains in place for both parts of the Hwy. 67 improvement effort.
As for possible alternatives to avoid big delays, officials are advising motorists to use Teller One.
For the other part of the project, a stretch on Hwy. 67 North from Woodland Park to Westcreek, few escape routes appear feasible this week.
According to CDOT authorities, most of the work will occur along a wide stretch of markers, both for north and south-bound lanes. For this stretch, motorists just need a little luck to avoid the construction-related halt zones. Unlike the other section of Hwy. 67, few alternate routes are available. See related map for details.
And for cyclists and hikers who think they avoid the delays by trekking along the popular Centennial trail, think again. Pedestrians and cyclists will be stopped by construction crews at certain times in the impacted areas, according to CDOT guidelines.
The work on the Woodland Park to Westcreek Hwy. 67 improvement section will occur Monday through Friday during the forthcoming week. This section of the project appears to be moving at a faster pace than the main Divide to Cripple Creek part.
The end result of the project will feature a much smoother and safer highway, according to officials. The work is capped by an additional layer of asphalt.
County officials have been big proponents of the project and have complimented the state for keeping the public and media informed. Weekly construction maps are provided by CDOT. However, many residents and business owners are questioning the need for the additional paving.
Past big dollar highway improvement efforts have been met with much skepticism in the high country.
The latest Hwy. 67 effort is just part of a series of road enhancements,, making the summer of 2017 into the orange cone disaster season, according to the opinions of many locals.
To further complicate this scenario, the city of Woodland Park has initiated its pro-pedestrian HAWK lighting system, aimed at making highway crossings much easier. A few other smaller infrastructure projects are occurring in downtown Woodland Park.
On many Friday evenings during the summer it wasn’t uncommon for a motorist to endure a 45-minute drive between Crystola and Divide due to the associated delays.