Wildernest-to-Frisco road plans resurface
SUMMIT COUNTY – Under the right conditions, it wouldn’t take much. A bolt of lightning or even a carelessly tossed cigarette could easily spark a dangerous inferno in the dead and dying lodgepole pine forests around Wildernest and Mesa Cortina. A fire of any significant size in the area could trigger a mass evacuation, and local officials have long wondered how well the steep and windy roads in the neighborhoods could handle the traffic in such a worst-case scenario.Citing the ever-present threat of wildfires, as well as increased congestion around the tangle of roads near the Interstate 70 Silverthorne exits, a pair of local residents will once again approach the Board of County Commissioners with the idea of easing traffic in and out of Wildernest with a new road connection from the neighborhood, including a bridge across I-70 that would join the new spur with Dillon Dam Road near Frisco.According to Gray Pearson, a local engineer who will speak to the county commissioners along with restaurateur Bobby Starekow, a straightforward extension of Buffalo Drive to the south, crossing I-70, could help alleviate some of those concerns. Pearson has lived in the area since the late 1970s, watching residential density, as well as traffic congestion, increase the whole time. Pearson said large, new commercial developments in Silverthorne will only make the traffic situation worse.This isn’t the first time a proposal for a new road has come before the BOCC. Most recently, talk of the new road connection surfaced last summer in the context of roadless area designations in Summit County, including the forested lands around Wildernest. The commissioners made a non-binding recommendation to take the area out of the roadless category, based on the need to do wildfire mitigation. During the hearing, Pearson said the roadless status could prevent construction of the road he considers essential to public safety. Other citizens opposed the county’s position, citing concern about wildlife habitat and wetlands in the area.Pearson said the way the project is currently envisioned would require construction of about 1.5 miles of roadway. “It would take thousands of cars out of that I-70 junction in Silverthorne,” Pearson said. “It’s not all that long, and it’s just a plain-old county road,” Pearson said.Although the plans are in a very early stage, he estimated that the work could be done for about $5 million.But those cost estimates vary widely.Assistant county manager Thad Noll said the bridge alone could cost $10 to $15 million, based on the costs of other projects he has worked on.”We’re going to be in a total listening mode,” Noll said, adding that there are many competing needs for county dollars. And based on past feedback, there doesn’t seem to be any support from the Buffalo Mountain Metro district either, Noll concluded.Presentation on new Wildernest to Frisco road proposal scheduled for 9:40 a.m., April 10 at a BOCC work session in the Old County Courthouse, Breckenridge.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at email@example.com.
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