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New regulations limit road closings

SUMMIT COUNTY – Last August, Swan Mountain Inn co-owner Robin Robson said she lost $1,000 in a single day when customers couldn’t reach her Swan Mountain Road business.

This year, under a new set of regulations adopted by the county commissioners Monday, that isn’t likely to happen again.

The rules will limit the closing of any county roads to prevent traffic delays of more than 15 minutes.



Last summer, during the Summit Historics Hill Climb on Swan Mountain Road, the thoroughfare was closed in both directions for portions of a Saturday and Sunday. That created some problems for visitors and locals and triggered the creation of the new special events regulations. The antique car races started at Summit High School before traveling up Swan Mountain Road.

Robson said race officials told her she couldn’t get to her business, located at the base of Swan Mountain Road. Robson’s staff couldn’t get their either, and neither could potential customers.



“We lost about $1,000 in revenue on Sunday from brunch,” she said.

Commissioners are now seeking the best of both worlds – trying to host events such as the car race while keeping people like Robson and those who travel the road happy. If this doesn’t work, the commissioners said Monday, they’ll tweak the regulations further.

“I think a 15-minute wait isn’t too unreasonable,” said County Commissioner Bill Wallace, “but there’s no way we’ll do it like we did in the past.”

Commissioner Gary Lindstrom, the only one of the three to vote against the proposed changes, doesn’t think any road closures should be allowed. He thinks such events inconvenience many and benefit few.

The road race is held the same weekend as Keystone’s Wine, Jazz and Art Festival. The event’s art director, Sandy Greenhut, thinks the closure of Swan Mountain Road interferes with the success of the Keystone event.

“I had people tell me when they saw the road was blocked they turned around and went back home,” she said.

Summit Historics event organizers, however, said last fall that their event benefits the local economy.

“It was an event we thought would bring visitors from outside the county and not just be a drain on local assets,” said former Summit Historical Society director Randy Swan. “These are people who bring their $100,000 cars up and don’t mind staying in our hotels and eating in our restaurants.”

The event also garnered attention from Front Range television and newspapers.

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, though Swan said it wasn’t shut down completely. Cars were allowed to pass through every 15 to 20 minutes.

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 time trial series, limited the use of roads. Those events also will be subject to the new rules.

Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at jreuter@summitdaily.com


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