County: Open Gold Camp one way
Three of the five members of the Board of El Paso County Commissioners voted March 14 to recommend the U.S. Forest
Service's Alternative E, which would open a closed segment of Gold Camp Road to one-way traffic.
Commissioner Sallie Clark, whose district in-cludes the Westside, was the lone vote for Alternative F, which would open the road some days but close it other days to allow unfettered access for hikers and bikers.
The commissioner ma-jority were Doug Bruce, Wayne Williams and Jim Bensberg. Dennis Hisey voted for Alternative G (open it to two-way traffic).
The U.S. Forest Service has authority over the road. March 15 was the cut-off date for comments/ recommendations to the agency from citizens or government entities regarding its draft Environ-mental Impact Statement (EIS), which was released for public review in early January.
Clark's position was in keeping with votes earlier this month by the County Parks Board and (in a 4-3 vote) City Council. “I prefer option F because I feel that it is a good compromise between 'open the road unlimitedly' and 'not open the road at all,' ” Clark said afterward. “It would leave the natural, quiet and dust-free experience for hiking and biking a few days a week and still provide motorized vehicle traffic on certain days.”
Alternative E supports the Forest Service's draft proposal. An agency spokes-person has previously said Alternative F was not favored because of the higher costs of opening and closing the road every few days and because it would undercut the concept of “universal access.” One-way traffic is believed to be more feasible for the narrow parts of the road and less of a detriment to hikers/bikers, according to the Forest Service's draft EIS document.
Under any scenario, the road would only be open seasonally to vehicles, meaning that from December to March no cars would be allowed.
An 8.5-mile segment of the road, whose main Colorado Springs access is from the Westside, was closed in 1988 after a partial tunnel closure. The scenic road was originally a rail line to Cripple Creek in the early 1900s.
The Forest Service has announced that it expects to reach a final EIS decision in June. No construction funding has yet been authorized.
Westside Pioneer article