• 20220406-145245-CU20041420News20Briefs2
  • 20220406-145308-CU20041420News20Briefs1
  • 20220406-145329-CU20041420News20Briefs3

Commissioners suggest renaming local point to Wagon Road Pass

Clear Creek County has asked federal and state officials to add Wagon Road Pass to the list of possible names for Squaw Pass.

The pass is a geographic point within U.S. Forest Service Land along Highway 103. It is near the newly renamed Mestaa’ehehe Mountain.

In November, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland issued an order declaring ‘squaw’ a derogatory term and forming a task force to find replacement names for all federal sites bearing that name.

Thus, a new name for the pass is guaranteed.

Five names — Deadman Pass, Corral Pass, Beaver Pass, Vance Pass and Mestaa’ehehe Pass — have been autogenerated based on the closest geographic features. Jenny Runyon of the USBGN said stakeholders can suggest others, but at least those five are under consideration.

During an April 4 county commissioners meeting, Anne Hayden, who owns property near the pass, advocated for the name Wagon Road Pass. She said the pass was the first and, for a long time, the only way to get from Denver to Idaho Springs.

Commissioners George Marlin and Randy Wheelock said they liked Wagon Road Pass as a renaming option for its historical merit, but they also weren’t opposed to other names for it, such as Blue Sky Pass and Mestaa’ehehe Pass.

Commissioner Sean Wood said he didn’t have much of an opinion, but felt it’d be unprecedented for a pass and a nearby peak to share a name. Thus, he recommended against adding Blue Sky Pass to the list as well.

Marlin emphasized how he hoped the pass’ new name would be significant to county residents.

“I like the logic of what this pass’ original use was — how it built our communities and connected our communities,” Marlin said of the suggested name Wagon Road Pass.

Wendy Koch reelected as Empire mayor

Empire residents have reelected Wendy Koch as mayor. During the April 5 municipal election, she received 60 votes to serve another two-year term.

Challenger Jennie Ann Carnes Romine received 32 votes.

“I thank all my constituents for giving me a vote of confidence, and I will do my best to live up to that,” Koch stated April 6.

Additionally, five current Board of Trustees members were reelected. The sixth trustee didn’t fill out the election paperwork in time, Koch described, but will apply to be appointed to the seat by the board.

Koch invited Romine and other interested residents to run for office in the next election and/or to submit letters of interest any time there’s an open seat on the Board of Trustees.

CDOT expects tolls for westbound I-70 express lane to start next month

The westbound Interstate 70 mountain express lane has been open with fees waived this winter, as the Colorado Department of Transportation tests its tolling equipment.

However, the agency expects to begin charging tolls in May, CDOT representatives told the county commissioners at an April 5 meeting.

Drivers should look for signage indicating whether tolling is live or whether fees are still waived.

During the April 5 meeting, CDOT representatives outlined all the ongoing projects in Clear Creek County, such as the mountain express lane, and their expected completion dates.

  • U.S. Highway 6 resurfacing is 18% complete, and should be finished this September.
  • U.S. 6 tunnel lighting project through Clear Creek Canyon is almost finished, as the lights should be on mid-April.
  • County Road 314 is only 20% complete, although the Scott Lancaster Bridge was moved recently. There is an automated traffic signal up now, although there will be a full road closure sometime in May. This project should be finished in August 2023.
  • The I-70 resurfacing between Floyd Hill and Chief Hosa has started. This will be night work only.
  • The geohazard mitigation along I-70 near mile marker 243 will go through late April, as there was a delay because of equipment malfunction. Crews have anchors in place, CDOT representatives said, so there are a few more tasks to do before placing the netting.

Additionally, CDOT has several items in the preconstruction phase, including the I-70 Floyd Hill project. The $700-million project still has a $240 million funding gap, although the agency is applying for a federal grant this spring, and has asked for letters of support from its local partners.

In the meantime, the agency has selected its contractor and designer, and should have contracts with them signed by mid-April.