Letter: Gypsum needs to allow an I-70 detour
I’m not your elected mayor, but I still have a voice and I’m going to use it as a concerned citizen. I have been directly impacted by closures in the canyon stemming from fires, rock slides, road damage, weather safety closures and accidents.
Monday night council member Chris Huffman was interviewed by 7 News about the ongoing Cottonwood Pass dilemma. He stated, “Do we want all that traffic going through a little town that really doesn’t have the infastructure to handle it?” So you’re telling me that the highest populated incorporated town in Eagle County, which also has one of highest town revenues in the state, doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle it?
Meanwhile, a few months ago, Gypsum Town Manager Jeremy Rietmann boasted in an article that one of things that was appealing to Tesla was Gypsum’s enhanced infrastructure that was in place. Plain and simple, Huffman, along with other council members, do not want to deal with traffic and gridlock that I-70 closures bring to their doorsteps. Which I can understand, but this isn’t about the council members, this is about doing what is best for the town of Gypsum.
The community has been dealing with these issues for years, but more recently over the past two years, due to the canyon fire, and the residual effects of said fire which create instantaneous and frequent I-70 closures.
I will give Rep. Lauren Boebert credit for putting forth effort with the I-70 Detour Act, which would prompt the state to study the I-70 mountain corridor and alternate routes. That is a step in the right direction, but what about the $50 million federal funding request from Gov. Jared Polis? What about the $14 million being discussed by the county commissioners? What about the $1.4 million master traffic study update the Gypsum Town Council approved?
The Duck Pond Fire which happened last weekend should be an eye-opener. In an instant the 50-70 mph winds could have had a devastating impact on the town of Gypsum prompting larger evacuations. I-70 was gridlocked all the way to Wolcott (along with Highway 6) with semis parked all along the sides of the road, town entrances and exits.
So riddle me this: When there are future emergencies when I-70 is closed and Gypsum residents are at risk how do we evacuate our 8,040 residents? Furthermore, how do we plan to evacuate growth with the proposed 800+ units approved by Gypsum Town Council? Gypsum is continuing to grow exponentially, and these issues must be discussed, planned for and expedited. Local, county and state officials absolutely need to do whatever it takes to get Cottonwood Pass figured out. As citizens we need to put pressure on them to get their evaluations done and start the work. Cottonwood Pass needs to be open year round and in good, safe and working condition. We already know about all of the issues along parts of Cottonwood Pass and the focus needs to remain on the solutions to this ongoing problem.