Teller Commissioners to Area Motorists: Don’t Drive Crazy in Residential Areas

Delays Expected with Road Improvement Work and Hwy. 24 Closure

Rick Langenberg

Slow it down and don’t get upset over traffic delays.

The Teller County commissioners weren’t short on words and advice at last week’s meeting, urging caution and common courtesy for local motorists traveling between Divide and Florissant, who can  expect serious construction-related delays, starting later this week.

As a result, don’t be surprised to see your fair share of orange cones and warning signs in the central/western part of Teller; and more importantly, don’t be in a hurry, when cruising up and down Hwy. 24. In fact, hit the chill button throughout the summer, as 2023 could go down as a bustling time for road construction.

On the upside, a much safer Hwy. 24 roadway will become the end result, allowing folks to avoid a wild roller coaster ride along bad stretches of the main thoroughfare that have set the stages for major accidents. Also, the slated highway enhancements could help curb the blow of encountering frequent potholes.

On the downside, don’t expect any speed records when traveling in parts of central/western Teller, with an extended closure of Hwy. 24, which will soon be shut down completely for five days. And traffic delays on the main highway throughout Teller and the Ute Pass could become more frequent with the slew of projects underway, warned the commissioners.

The commissioners  last week also reflected on the recent Florissant fire and urged residents to take the necessary steps to mitigate their property and to sign-up for the proper alert messages and to view the Teller County Sheriff’s Facebook page, when disasters strike. Overall, they described the response to the blaze as a definite success story, but indicated some concern over the flurry of false reports on social media.

These were some of the themes stressed by the commissioners, who spent considerable time talking about forthcoming projects and emergency management procedures, along with other key issues, at their regular meeting.  Again, their board reports, during which they touched on a flurry of local and state issues, took center stage.

Road Delays

A key subject raised by the board dealt with road construction work, with at least three projects in the works.

As part of a major improvement project, Hwy. 24 will be closed in a key section in central/western Teller, for five days. The construction is slated for Aug. 3, 4, and 7, 8 and 9 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

As a result, Lower Twin Rocks Road will serve as the alternate route during the construction period, set to start later this week. Residents are asked to avoid the Upper Twin Rocks Road and use the paved portions of Twin Rocks.

At last week’s meeting, Teller County Commission Chairman Erik Stone asked that residents display caution, as this is a residential area. He said the final improvement work, aimed at vastly improving the thoroughfare in the Florissant Canyon area, and making it much safer, requires an alternative route temporarily.

“People live on Twin Rocks Road,” said Stone, who urged caution, and advised residents they must expect delays

He reminded the press and residents that Twin Rocks is a curvy road and is not designed for fast speeds.

The end result of highway improvement work, according to Stone, will result in a better line of sight  for motorists traveling through the canyon area. “It will be a much better road,” said the commission chairman.

Despite the flurry of construction-related delays this summer, Stone painted a mostly positive picture of these  projects. He said the current board and previous commissioners have taken an aggressive stance toward road improvements in Teller.

According to Stone, this commitment is paying off with Teller getting their share of government-funded road improvement projects.  Besides the project in the Florissant Canyon area, Stone cited work in  Gillette Flats to widen the road, and a stretch on Hwy. 67 North in Woodland Park which he described as a hub for potholes. “We have had (transportation) advocates on these boards. We want to make sure our projects stay visible.”

These projects are following the major repaving of Hwy. 24, occurring now between parts of the lower Ute Pass (Green Mountain Falls and Crystola) and Edlowe Road, north of Woodland Park.

In a later interview, Stone asked for residents to use caution in traveling through all of these construction zones. He believes the final road improvement product will be worth the temporary hassles that will occur this summer and fall.  “We are glad to get the  money to fund these projects.”

Stone said the commissioners aren’t afraid to publicize their need for transportation-related dollars.

Recently, a meeting of the Pikes Peak Area Council of  Governments was hosted in Woodland Park.  Stone, who is strongly involved with this organization, stated that this allowed PPACG leaders to see first-hand the challenges facing the mountain communities in Teller. “This is the group that helps us with funding,” said the commission chairman.

He believed it is important for PPACG leaders to learn that “life is different up the hill.”

Florissant Fire Response

The commissioners last week also lauded the response to the Florissant fire that scorched 14 acres in the Florissant Fossil Beds area.

“This was a wake-up call,” said Commissioner Dan Williams. He lauded the use of local and outside resources, and the use of air power to battle the flames.

The blaze was started by a lightning strike and led to the evacuation of the Palmer Village subdivision and a pre-evacuation warning for other areas.  The fire, which occurred on eastern side of the National Monument, took many locals by surprise due to the heavy moisture the area has received this summer.

As a result, the commissioners heeded once again their warning to residents to take steps to mitigate their properties.

“There was full cooperation,” said Teller County Administrator Ross Herzog, when discussing the community response to the blaze. “Everyone hit the ground running.”

In responding to some concerns regarding the incident, Stone made it clear that residents need to make sure they are signed up for proper emergency notifications. If they are unsure, they just need to register with the E-911 service group. He stated that only those residents in the impacted areas will receive direct messages of a pending and current disaster and for evacuation notices.

He stated that when an overall blast is sent throughout the county, the sheriff’s office gets overwhelmed with phone calls.

In fact, Stone urged resident to rely on the Teller County Sheriff’s Facebook page for proper notification.

In striking a familiar theme voiced at county meetings these days,  Stone stated that some reports, airing on social media, are just not accurate. “The (social media) buzz is not reliable.”