Breckenridge seeks to turn orange eyesores from mining era into bus stop
September 11, 2016
Bright orange streams and puddles from mining runoff streak the hillsides across Summit County, but this fall, Breckenridge will have one fewer reminders of its polluted past. The Town of Breckenridge is collaborating with Summit County to reclaim the "orange pools" on French Gulch Road in front of the Wellington-Oro Mine in Breckenridge.
The pools do not present a human health concern, said Kim Dykstra, Director of Communications for the Town of Breckenridge. However, they did present an eyesore, and the entities involved decided that the space that they occupied could be put to better use as a bus turnaround for the Breckenridge Free Ride bus.
"We want to get people on the transit system in our neighborhoods," said Dystra.
The residents of the nearby Wellington Neighborhood had expressed their desire for greater bus service in the area, asking the town to find a way to create a bus service with an out and back route on French Gulch Road. The Town of Breckenridge and Summit County decided that they could deal with two issues with one action by replacing the orange ponds with a bus turnaround. Leading up to construction of the project, Breckenridge worked with residents of the Wellington Neighborhood to brainstorm the best way to give community members access to transit.
The Town of Breckenridge and the Summit County government jointly purchased the area where the pools are located and put together a consent decree agreeing to clean up the area together, without the direct involvement of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In order to get approval to mitigate the ponds independently, the Town of Breckenridge and Summit County had to receive the support of the EPA for the consent decree. The process of receiving the EPA's support and planning the project took about nine months.
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To remove the orange ponds and install the bus turnaround, the construction team will move around the existing materials on site to divert the water away from the Wellington Neighborhood area and allow for the construction of the bus turnaround for the Free Ride bus.
The funding for this project is sourced from three different entities. The 2016 Capital Improvement Plan has budgeted $185,000 for the project. However, this funding does not include the additional $160,000 necessary for pond remediation. This cost will be split evenly between the Town of Breckenridge's Open Space Funding and Summit County Funding. In total, the project will cost $345,000.
David O'Neil, the developer of the Wellington Neighborhood, said that he is in support of the extension of the bus service, adding that the new bus route means that each resident of the neighborhood, including those who live in the Lincoln Park area within Wellington, will be within about 1,000 feet of a bus stop.
Ian Hamilton, a resident of the Wellington Neighborhood, is happy with the plans for the bus turnaround. "When the Town of Breck announced that they may be able to remove them and build the turnaround there, we were very surprised and pleased," he said. "The Town of Breckenridge listened to its citizens and made this project happen, and happen even better than most everyone's best possible outcome."
The pond mitigation and bus turnaround project is planned to be completed by mid-November.