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Rather than fight, why not pave both canyon and pass?

Letter from Eleanor Harrington

Cottonwood Pass – November 1994 – Colorado Central Magazine

Many thanks for featuring the Cottonwood Pass controversy in your October Issue. The short history was well done and most informative and the contrasting points of view were interesting and entertaining.

As residents of Buena Vista and long time property owners in Taylor Park, we make weekly trips over Cottonwood Pass each summer. Unlike Marija Vader and the Gunnison County residents she refers to, who probably only travel Cottonwood occasionally, we reluctantly travel this road and find it neither “likable” nor “a tiny piece of paradise.”

Mr. Perry is much more to the point when he describes the unpaved section of Cottonwood as “an over-utilized, under-maintained, dirty, bumpy, narrow, hazardous trail used by over 50,000 vehicles and avoided by others each summer.” We might also add that the dust Ms. Vader thinks so quaint is very unhealthy for those of us who frequent the Pass.

Marija downplays the significance of Cottonwood by using dated data to describe its use. Recent Gunnison County surveys show almost 500 vehicles use this unpaved road daily and it costs over $50,000 per summer to keep it in its present under maintained condition.

Her attempt to build a case for fixing the 20-mile Taylor Canyon road at the expense of the Pass seems as self-serving (Marija Vader lives in Taylor Canyon) as “the pork-barrel beneficiaries” she refers to. The cost of this “fix” has been estimated to be over $30 million at recent public meetings, excluding purchase of right-of-way, not the $19.5 million she cited.

The critical need for this expenditure appears to be the fifteen or so potholes per mile that emerge each spring. If our math is correct, this “fix” will cost over $100,000 per pothole as compared to under $70 per washboard, which are always in evidence, to pave Cottonwood Pass.

In her article, Marija refers to the Cottonwood Pass road as leading “straight from nowhere to nowhere.” To us, this road leads from our home in Buena Vista to our home in Taylor Park, and beyond. This description, and her use of it, belittles the many thousands of us who have need to use this road as well as those on either end of it who don’t, won’t or can’t use it.

The funds available to help in “fixing” the Taylor Canyon road and the paving of Cottonwood Pass have accumulated from Federal taxes included in each gallon of gasoline sold in the United States. This is money for use in improving Federal roads and highways, not for Cuban refugees and Russian human rights packages.

We don’t agree with Mr. Perry’s implication that the pavement on the Taylor Canyon road be dug up so Marija and other citizens of Gunnison can enjoy more miles of washboard and dust while getting rid of a pothole problem. Misery doesn’t enjoy company in this case.

We do wish Marija would consider the plight of those of us who use the Pass and pay taxes in Gunnison County, as well as the many thousands of others who add to Gunnison’s economy each summer.

The right answer is to pave Cottonwood Pass and “fix” the Taylor Canyon road. United we stand. Divided we have potholes, washboards and dust.

Dan & Eleanor Harrington

Tin Cup & Buena Vista