Copper infrastructure ready for crowds |

Copper infrastructure ready for crowds

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Planet Design course builders Brad Hoeter (yellow cat) and Ryan Neptune moved snow with their specially designed cats Monday afternoon on the lower part of Copper Mountain. Neptune and Hoeter were creating a boardercross course for the Gravity Games at Copper Mountain beginning Thursday and running through the weekend.

COPPER MOUNTAIN – Gravity Games planners have three words for spectators of this weekend’s festivities – take the bus. With only two days left until the start of the Gravity Games at Copper Mountain, parking and transportation plans are ready to go. Organizers have learned from past lessons, and county officials are going to watch with interest to see if Copper Mountain can make the logistics work.Officials are expecting 5,000 to 10,000 attendees daily at the games.”Between Widespread Panic and the Cardboard Derby, the county is 0-for-2 with big events,” County Commissioner Bill Wallace said.Gravity Games event producer Christine Sperber begs to differ.

“I’d say the county is 2-for-4,” Sperber said. “We’ve held Cyclefest in Copper twice, and it went really well both times.”The 14th annual KBCO Cardboard Derby in 2002, which challenged participants to build cardboard sleds and ride them down the slopes, was held at Copper Mountain in 2002, drawing 150 teams and thousands of spectators. By late morning, traffic and parking problems began as resort lots quickly filled and cars backed up on Interstate 70, where spectators eventually began parking. After the chaos fizzled, Copper Mountain opted to no longer host the derby.Parking issues and overloading also occurred for the 2000 Widespread concert in Keystone when fans began parking on Highway 9 and Montezuma Road.To avoid another black mark, Copper Mountain is working with the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) to maintain order during weekend. CSP Capt. Ron Prater said his agency wasn’t given advance notification concerning the derby, and there was no permit process for the event.

Gravity Games appears to be quite the opposite case, as planning for parking began in October. Prater, who said the plan is “solid,” added that CSP plans to take an aggressive posture toward policing Interstate 70 and Highway 91. Extra troopers will be assigned to enforce the parking regulations.”We’re not going to tolerate turning our highways into a parking lot,” Prater said.If history repeats itself, Wallace said, it would be three more years before the commissioners approve another large event.”I’m not against these sort of events,” Wallace said. “But if visitors come here and it’s a zoo, we’ve lost them and their friends.”Thad Noll, assistant county manager, has worked to make sure the event goes off without a hitch. He has met the last few weeks with Copper Mountain, the Colorado Department of Transportation, CSP and others on a cohesive parking, transportation and signs plan for the event.

“Copper wants to get the OK from everyone to make sure there aren’t any major flaws in the plan,” Noll said. “I’m confident that the parking is there and the plan is in place.”Noll said contingency parking lots would be the Summit Middle School and the County Commons complex, both bordering Frisco. These spaces won’t be available for the whole event, but will be there just in case other lots fill up.Sperber said the group planned parking for 5,000 additional people on top of the resort’s five-year average for guests.”We want to encourage locals to take the Summit Stage, and leave their cars behind,” Sperber said.Copper Mountain has requested that resort employees take buses to work to free up spaces for the event.

“We’re hoping people will see the benefit of parking in the outlying lots (in Silverthorne and Frisco) and being dropped off by the bus in the center of the event,” Sperber said.Signs will be visible along the highway and off exit ramps to direct people to available lots. The signs also will inform travelers when lots have reached capacity.Mary Roberts from Octagon, which handles event management for the Gravity Games, said spectator safety is a key element to public transit as well.”Public transportation is a safe option with all the festivities that will be going on,” Roberts said. “We want to encourage everyone to be cautious when traveling.”Jennifer Huffman can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 248, or at

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