By Beth Dodd:
The Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine now has approval from the State of Colorado and Teller County for its Mine Life Expansion 2, which ensures continued production at the gold mine through 2025. Construction work is expected to begin at the end of October 2012 in the Squaw Gulch area, where CO Highway 67 will be realigned.
Teller County Road 881 through Squaw Gulch has already been closed to the public since October 1 to prepare for the construction of the new Valley Leach Facility and High Grade Mill. This short dirt road connects the Shelf Road to CO Highway 67 through the center of the hairpin turn in Squaw Gulch.
After the highway is rerouted straight across the mouth of Squaw Gulch, access to the Shelf Road will be from CO Highway 67 just south of Cripple Creek. The area around and inside the old hairpin turn will be buried as part of the mine expansion. This area was once home to the abandoned mining towns of Anaconda, Barry, and Mound City, and part of the route of the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad.
A significant change has been made in the plans for keeping the highway open to the driving public during its realignment. Originally a tunnel over Highway 67 was going to be built, but this idea has been dropped. Discussions with the Colorado Department of Transportation led to a change of plans. They will use a highway crossing with flaggers stopping traffic on the highway instead.
It is anticipated that the flaggers and crossing will be in place for a full ten months, from mid-November 2012 through September 2013. The stoppage of traffic on Highway 67 could be for up to 5 minutes at a time, every 15 minutes. While this is no doubt less expensive and time consuming than building a tunnel, it will slow travel times for Victor residents.
In regard to the possible construction delays, Victor Mayor, Buck Hakes said, “I don’t think it will affect anything at all. For the most part, traffic is light. Especially in the winter, it’s mostly local traffic. People will just have to plan ahead. It may inconvenience a few people, but the benefits in the long run will outweigh whatever happens. The construction may bring business to Victor as workers look for places to eat and places to stay. We also have to look at the potential for new jobs.”
Another change at the mine that locals will see in the near future is the construction of drilling platforms in the Vindicator Valley area, west of Goldfield. These drills will be taking core samples approximately 3,000 feet deep for exploration purposes. Once the drills are in place, it is anticipated that the drilling will last two to three weeks. After the mine has usable samples, the drill platforms will be graded and re-seeded with grasses.