After 2.5 years of construction and many more of planning, first section of the Fremont Pass Recreational Pathway is almost finished
With only a week and a half of construction left, Open Space and Trails sets an official opening date
The gate that allows access to the Fremont Pass Recreational Pathway is still closed, but not for long.
The 3.3 mile segment of the Summit County Fremont Pass Recreational Pathway was supposed to be finished by the fall of 2020. Almost two years from its original opening date, the project is expected to officially open on Wednesday, July 13, Katherine King, the Director of Open Space and Trails, said.
The particular section of path has cost $5.6 million, $4.5 million of which was funded through the Federal Lands Access Program, a grant opportunity from the Federal Highway Administration. Open Space and Trails also received a $600,000 grant from the Colorado the Beautiful program.
The project is intended to offset danger for bikers that are, as of now, forced to travel on the shoulder of Colorado Highway 91.
Don Hansen, a board member for the nonprofit road biking club named Summit Biking, said he’s excited for the section to open. “It’s really fun to ride,” Don said about the existing section.
However, he said, it’s also very dangerous. Hansen said bikers should not bike alone on what he called “the narrows,” where the shoulder of Highway 91 becomes very thin. This new Fremont Pass section gives bikers a safer detour.
Construction on the Fremont Pass, which was supposed to begin in 2019, was pushed until May of 2020 due to a myriad of issues. Avalanches, debris, wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic created barriers that made it difficult for the original contractors, King said.
Since then, Open Space has hired new contractors.
“They wound up having to kind of start over and even redo some of the work that had initially been done in order to get the project going again and see it to completion,” King said.
Now, according to King, the only things left to finish are a few spots of asphalt repair, some erosion control and some revegetation of the slopes.
The section is also crucial to the original goal of connecting the entire Summit County Recreational Pathway System with Lake County through the White River National Forest.
“The longterm vision is to connect this path through the Climax Mine properties and over into Lake County,” King said. “This is kind of one piece of that, but I wouldn’t say this is the last piece.”
She said the entire project, of which there are still 21 miles to complete, is very complex and expensive, meaning it could still take a number of years to finish.
King said the contractors are heading back out to the path on Monday, June 20.
“It should only take them a week to 10 days to finish that up,” she said. “We know that people are really anxious to use this section of path, we are anxious to see it open. It’s been a long time coming.”
A soft opening of the section is tentatively scheduled on the weekend of July 4, King said, and an official ribbon cutting is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, July 13, at 4 p.m. at the southern end of the new section near the Far East Lot at Copper Mountain.
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