Summit County officials discuss Iron Springs easement swaps for Highway 9 shortcut |

Summit County officials discuss Iron Springs easement swaps for Highway 9 shortcut

More than 70 local residents attended a public forum in Frisco about a proposal to divert Colorado Highway 9 away from Leslie's Curve, shown here, through a portion of the Iron Springs conseration easement. The Colorado Department of Transportation recently released an environmental assessment for the proposal and is accepting public comments until Aug. 8. | Summit Daily News

It’s been a little longer than a month since the Colorado Department of Transportation announced a series of grants for road projects throughout the state and already local officials are collaborating on a plan to divert Colorado Highway 9 through Iron Springs.

In October, Summit County received $17.5 million for the Iron Springs shortcut as part of CDOT’s Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships program.

Last week, Brian Lorch, Summit County Open Space & Trails director, met with the Summit County Commission during a Tuesday work session to provide an update about the project, including land easement discussions between CDOT, the county and the Continental Divide Land Trust.

According to an amended easement map, CDOT needs 8.79 acres of Summit County land to construct a portion of the half-mile shortcut through Iron Springs. The acreage is located just north of Summit High School and is a piece of a larger 30-acre plot currently under a conservation easement.

Because CDOT requires additional acreage in Iron Springs to complete the project — land protected by a Continental Divide Land Trust conservation easement — it is working with the county to amend both of those easements.

Thad Noll, Summit County assistant manager, said the latest proposal is for the county and the Continental Divide Land Trust to offer the required acreage for the proposed new highway route. In exchange, CDOT would place 12.63 acres of land along Lake Dillon under a Continental Divide Land Trust conservation easement.

That acreage follows the current stretch of Colorado Highway 9, south of Leslie’s Curve. What is going to happen to the additional 10.42 acres of highway north and west of Leslie’s Curve is still to be determined, Noll said.

In addition to the land discussions, Lorch said preliminary plans call for the relocation of the Dickey Day Lot to the “outside curve” of the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area. A recreation path would be constructed to connect the new lot to the lake. The Dickey Day Lot is located on U.S. Forest Service land, Lorch said.

“From a forest service perspective, it will be a longer hiking experience from day use lot to the water,” Lorch said. “From a user’s perspective, it’s a much better location.”

Although plans are progressing, Noll said shovels won’t go into the ground until CDOT has completed an environmental assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

“CDOT would prefer not to engage (fully) until they do the NEPA thing,” Noll said. “As soon as NEPA is done, we’ll start working in earnest with CDOT on design.”

Once NEPA-approved, Noll said construction should last about two summer construction seasons. The project is slated to begin in the summer of 2016, with a firm CDOT deadline of Dec. 31, 2017.

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