~ by Rick Langenberg ~
In the battle of nature versus progress, flocks of tourists and visitors desiring to see the fall foliage, capped by mountains of gold, won out.
With many complaints mounting in recent weeks, the Colorado Department of Transportation declared a “Celebrate Leaf Week.” With this verdict, no road construction occurred on Hwy. 67 between Divide and Cripple Creek from Tuesdaythrough the weekend. This 13-mile stretch is the lion’s share of a $10.4 million major highway enhancement project, highlighted by a new layer of asphalt and a variety of safety improvements.
Regular construction work, though, did continue on the other phase of the project, a section of Hwy. 67 between Woodland Park and Westcreek. This section hasn’t imposed as many impacts, with potential delays mostly determined by the timing of the pilot vehicles and temporary halting points.
Hopefully, visitors and locals got a good dose of the changing aspen colors last week, as no more letup is anticipated in the improvement work.
For this week, CDOT is planning an aggressive schedule of improvements with one-lane restrictions northbound between mile markers 68 and 59, and southbound from 56 to 61. This will encompass a good portion of the road, with the only real untouched section including parts of the road bordering Cripple Creek. Once again, sections near and around Mueller State Park will incur delays.
Officials are recommending motorists use Teller One as an alternative route, or just plan for about 20-minute worth of delays.
In the other phase of the project, southbound traffic between Westcreek and Woodland Park on Hwy. 67 will be reduced to one-lane for almost the entire route. For northbound traffic, only a very small section will experience one-lane restrictions.
CDOT hopes to complete the Hwy. 67 projects by the end of the year.
Reaction to the project has been mixed. County elected leaders have lauded the work, citing the massive amount of money being poured into two of Teller’s main thoroughfares. Some business owners, though, question the need for the additional paving and have criticized the frequent delays. Big dollar highway projects in Teller County often get a cold response by locals and business operators, who question if the impacts are wort the final product.
The Hwy. 67 work is part of a hefty lineup of transportation projects, as many residents are getting tired of orange cone zones.