Latest update: Dillon Dam Road to reopen today
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
Denver Water officials will reopen the Dillon Dam Road to limited traffic this afternoon, the Summit Daily News has learned.
Summit County commissioners and Sheriff John Minor have scheduled a press conference on the Dillon side of the dam at 4 p.m., along with Denver Water officials and retired Maj. Gen. Mason Whitney, the state director of homeland security.
“Denver Water is removing their barricades. They will not unilaterally close
the road again,” said commissioner Tom Long.
Traffic will be limited to passenger vehicles, pickup trucks and emergency vehicles. Larger trucks and commercial vehicles will be barred, in a nod toward concerns over the possibility that larger vehicles could be used to damage the dam.
This afternoon, Denver Water officials and the county commissioners are expecting to sign an agreement that was drafted over the last week to open the road while insuring the safety of the dam.
“We made substantial progress at the meeting yesterday,” said county manager Gary Martinez.
With only a few hours’ warning to local officials, Denver Water officials abruptly closed the road on July 8, citing unspecified security concerns but insisting there were no specific threats against the dam.
If the dam was ever compromised, it would release as much as 245,000 acre-feet of water towards Silverthorne, affecting hundreds of homes, businesses and Interstate 70.
The closure was greeted with anger by local residents, who felt the utility was throwing its weight around while not taking into consideration how important the road is to the county.
One of only three east-west byways in the county, the sheriff’s office estimates 8,500 cars traveled the road each day before the closure.
County emergency responders led much of the charge against the closure, arguing that the concrete barriers and locked gates on the road severely restricted access for emergency vehicles.
Only a day after demonstrating delays in getting ambulances through the barriers, crews on a vehicle en route to an emergency near the scenic overlook got an answering machine when they called Denver Water’s security to unlock the Dillon gate.
On July 11, five county entities sued Denver Water to force the re-opening of the road, leading to the negotiations that resulted in Friday’s breakthrough.
This story will be updated.
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