Ban on road closures would severely affect some events, organizers say
SUMMIT COUNTY – A ban on road closures will kill the fledgling Summit Historics in Breckenridge event, said Summit Historical Society Director Randy Swan.
“We could never run with only one lane,” Swan said Monday. “It would be a sad day to lose an event that aspires to bring in such a high-caliber of visitors to our county. It was such a success among the people who came.”
Summit Historics in Breckenridge, a first-time celebration of transportation organized by Denver’s Mathews Racing and Nostalgia Racing to benefit the Summit Historical Society, was held the weekend of Aug. 24-25. It drew classic cars, boats and bikes to Summit County and included the timed hill climb up Swan Mountain Road. The climb closed Swan Mountain Road for eight hours that Saturday and five hours Sunday, although Swan said it wasn’t completely shut down. Cars were allowed to pass through every 15 to 20 minutes.
Monday, County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom said he’s utterly opposed to such closures.
Todd Robertson, who’s working with the group that’s crafting the new special events policies, said his next step is to get in touch with coordinators of special events about the proposal.
Swan, meanwhile, said plans are already under way for a second Summit Historics event in 2003.
“Our proposal for next year is to use the same formula we did this year, except to have a little better traffic control on Highway 9,” he said. “We’ve already discussed ways to allow people to go both ways, but limited to breaks between (races). We have lots of workers on the course in order to keep it safe. We are sensitive to those issues because we, ourselves, are travelers of these roads.”
Swan said the group that organized the event spent “many months and many thousands of dollars designing a course and layout so it would be a very safe and attractive event.”
“It was also an event we thought would bring visitors from outside the county and not just be a drain on local assets,” he said. “These are people who bring their $100,000 cars up and don’t mind staying in our hotels and eating in our restaurants.”
Swan also pointed out that the event garnered attention from Front Range television and newspapers.
Summit Historics was the only 2002 event that closed both lanes of a county road, but other events, including the Maverick Sports Promotions road bike timed trial series, limited the use of roads. During the time trials, one lane of the Dillon Dam Road was shut down. The event was held on four days in June, July and August, with the one-lane closures lasting two hours each time.
Maverick Sports Promotions director of operations Jeff Westcott said he heard no complaints about the road closure.
“We were able to get the four events off pretty smoothly, with the help of a sheriff’s deputy, using only one lane,” he said. “It would be safer if we used both, but given the fact that those events were scheduled in the height of summer, we felt it was nice of (the county) to give us the one. We were not disappointed at all.”
But Westcott said he would like the option of using two lanes.
“If we scheduled those events in May, before the campgrounds open, I would like to ask if they would give us the full road then,” he said.
Westcott said having a paid deputy on hand to direct traffic was “pricey.”
“It was something that definitely hurt the bottom line,” he said, “but something we felt was worth it, given the service they provided.
“We broke even, with only an average of 70 people per race. We feel like it will attract more people (in the future) and be worthwhile.”
The Summit Historics hill climb and the Maverick time trials were new this year to the county, but Robertson said the number of special events isn’t problematic.
“We saw a couple new things this year, but it’s not like we’re bursting at the seams,” he said. “A lot of them have been occurring as long as I’ve been with the county – since the mid-’90s.”
Those standard events include the Courage Classic, Triple Bypass and Ride the Rockies. While the Ride the Rockies tour doesn’t pass through Summit County every year, Robertson said it includes the county on its route about every three years.
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