Pass Pavement Controversies

Brief by Central Staff

Transportation – May 1995 – Colorado Central Magazine

PARK COUNTY — Cottonwood Pass between Buena Vista and Taylor Park isn’t the only crossing whose proposed paving generates controversy.

Climbing over a ridge behind Mt. Evans, Guanella Pass connects Georgetown on Interstate 70 with Grant on U.S. 285 in South Park.

As is the case with Cottonwood, the Federal Highway Administration seems to have money for the estimated $40 million cost of paving, but the funds are earmarked, and the feds say the money can’t be used for other roads with more traffic, such as U.S. 285 near Conifer (or Taylor Canyon in Gunnison County).

The similarities don’t end there, since there’s strong support and fervent opposition. The Park County Republican has editorialized in support of paving — increasing numbers of people will be driving it anyway, and pavement will reduce dust and accidents.

Opponents figure that retaining the ruts and washboards will discourage travel, while protecting wildlife from speeding traffic.

Unlike the Cottonwood controversy (where Buena Vista generally supports and Gunnison generally opposes), though, the opposing sides for Guanella aren’t grouped on opposing sides of the mountain — both Clear Creek and Park counties seem to have full contingents on both sides of the issue.