City Gold Camp position: Limit cars
There's no certainty how much impact it will have on the U.S. Forest Service's final decision, but Colorado Springs City Council
voted March 8 for a plan to open a long-closed segment of Gold Camp Road to motor vehicles, but only three days a week.
The 4-3 vote followed a public hearing which aired opinions ranging from keeping it open all the time to closing it all the time. The motion by council member Richard Skorman was taken verbatim from a written proposal by Lee Milner, a board member of the Pikes Peak Area Trails Coalition.
At issue is an 8.5-mile segment that was closed to cars in 1988 after a partial collapse of a tunnel (#3) a mile southwest of Gold Camp Road's intersection with High Drive. The Forest Service has proposed reopening the road to one-way vehicle traffic, but is taking public comments until March 15.
The Skorman/Milner position is based on the premise that a pleasant recreational opportunity for hikers and bikers will be lost if they have to share it with motor vehicles. Opposed to that view are those who think that limiting the scenic road's access would be unfair to those who aren't so young, able or fit.
Forest Service planner Frank Landis, who led the agency's public process on the road over the past year, has previously said the city's position will get no greater consideration than anyone else's when the agency develops a final decision from its draft Environmental Impact Statement this summer. The road is not in the city, except for two small portions that are part of North Cheyenne Canon Park.
Under any scenario, the most the road would be open is seasonally (April to November), while hikers/ bikers would continue being able to use the road all the time. In a previous conversation with the Pioneer, Landis cited extra costs and concern about lack of universal access as reasons for not wanting to limit vehicle road use to certain days of the week.
Both Westside City Coun-cil members (Scott Hente and Jerry Heimlicher) voted for the motion, while at-large council member Tom Gallagher - a Westside resident - voted against it. Heimlicher was in favor although he said he sympathized with those who can't hike or bike to roadless places.
Hente commented that he is “always looking for a reasonable compromise.”
Talking about what it was like before the segment's closure and referring to hiker/biker concerns about close proximity to cars, Gallagher said motorists used to give him no problems when he would hike along Gold Camp Road. His next comment drew raucous laughter: “Maybe they perceived me as a roving gangster.”
County commissioners have not taken an open/close position yet, but could do so at their meeting Monday, March 14.
Westside Pioneer article