EAGLE COUNTY — After almost seven years in the making, construction started Monday on the first of four “state of the art” cell towers in Glenwood Canyon.
The towers will accommodate up to five wireless carriers and enhance emergency service communications. The towers are being built at each rest area along Interstate 70 in the canyon. The first tower is being built on U.S. Forest Service Land at the Hanging Lake Rest Area and will be complete in November. Construction is likely to start at the other locations — Grizzly Creek, No Name and Bair Ranch — sometime near the end of August or September, with the whole network ready by the end of the year.
Canyon Summits LLC, has been working with the Forest Service and Colorado Department of Transportation for the past six years to provide the wireless communication facilities within the canyon.
According to a company representative involved in the lengthy negotiations, emergency services were a main selling point for the multiple federal and state agencies involved in approving the Glenwood Canyon project. There was some initial skepticism that cell phone service was necessary in the canyon, but after multiple meetings and discussions, the benefits of being able to have more dependable cell phone coverage for people in the canyon to report injuries, for emergency responders to ensure communications, and for travelers to be able to report accidents, avalanches, and other events requiring immediate assistance. When all four sites are completed, the improved communications should lessen emergency response times and allow more complete information to be readily available about current road conditions, accidents and closures.
The tower plans aim to strike a balance between improving wireless coverage and protection of the aesthetic beauty of the canyon. Buildings have been designed to harmonize with the overall character of the rest areas and Canyon Summits LLC has agreed to replace several structures and maintenance spaces that are not compatible with the existing rest area design.
Hudspeth & Associates Inc. of Rifle has been selected to build the communication site at Hanging Lake Rest Area. During construction the public can expect fewer available parking spaces due to construction equipment. Construction will not take place on weekends. Once each tower is complete, service in a localized area will be immediately improved but there will not be consistent coverage until all the towers are finished.