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Installation of a new crossing of Highway 91 near Copper Mountain and Climax Mine signifies a major step forward for the Fremont Recpath Project
Contact: Jason Lederer, Summit County Open Space & Trails, 970-668-4213
Summit County – The Fremont Pass Recreational Pathway project has reached a major milestone with the installation of a new crossing of Highway 91 near Copper Mountain and Climax Mine. The Fremont Pass Recpath project is a collaborative effort of Summit and Lake Counties and the Climax Molybdenum Company to create a regional paved pathway connecting the pathway systems of the two Counties, passing through National Forest and Climax-owned properties over Fremont Pass and along the Top of the Rockies National Scenic Byway. The conceptual alignment roughly parallels Highway 91 for just over 21 miles, connecting the Mineral Belt Trail in Lake County with the Tenmile Canyon Recreational Pathway at Copper Mountain.
The "Summit County Segment" of the broader Fremont Pass Recpath project, which started construction this past spring, is a 3.3-mile-long alignment bypassing a narrow section of Highway 91 between Copper Mountain and the northern limit of Climax Mine. The new 270-foot-long highway crossing, which was installed during an overnight highway closure October 29, provides future Recpath users traveling south towards Leadville safe access across the highway where they can rejoin roadway traffic and utilize existing widened roadway shoulders.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to see the new crossing structure installed,” said Jason Lederer, Open Space and Trails senior resource specialist. “Much work remains before we can open this new section of Recpath to the Summit County community, but the new bridge demonstrates just how far this project has come since major planning efforts started nearly a decade ago.”
In 2016, the Fremont Pass Recpath project was recognized by then Governor Hickenlooper’s “Colorado the Beautiful: Colorado’s 16 Initiative”, which identified 16 priority trails, trail segments, and trail gaps in Colorado.
“Recognition by the Governor significantly enhanced Summit County’s efforts to bring this critical missing Recpath segment to fruition,” said Brian Lorch, Open Space and Trails director. “This high level support bolstered our collaboration with the White River National Forest, through which the new Recpath segment passes, as well as our abilities procure project funding.
Total project costs hover around $5.5 million, much of which is funded through state and federal grants, as well as a donation from the local cycling nonprofit organization, Summit Biking. During 2016, Summit County was awarded a Federal Lands Access Program Grant from the Federal Highway Administration, which in addition to providing nearly 75% of the total project funding, carries significant project management, design, and permitting support. Project construction is being led on behalf of Summit County by the Federal Highway Administration Central Federal Lands Highway Division, which is based out of Lakewood, Colorado.
“Federal Lands Access Program funding and project management support has been invaluable to this project,” said Lederer. “The scale of a project like this stretches the capacity of our small Open Space and Trails program. However, this is the type of project they do all the time.”
In the coming weeks, the project will be entering a winter shutdown period before restarting next spring. Remaining construction is scheduled to be completed during 2021, with the Recpath opening to the public sometime next summer.
“We appreciate the community’s patience with the ongoing construction,” said Lorch. “After being waylaid by avalanches in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it has been a bit of an uphill battle for all involved to reach this point in the project. However, we look forward to welcoming Recpath users onto this new segment next year when the work is complete and coast is clear.”
The new Recpath segment, which passes through Canada lynx habitat will be closed seasonally from late fall through early spring to minimize habitat disruption. The public should respect all posted closures, including during this winter when construction is paused. Additional project information is available on the Summit County website at: https://www.summitcountyco.gov/1346/Fremont-Pass-Recreational-Pathway-Projec
For more information, contact Jason Lederer of the Summit County Open Space and Trails Department at 970-668-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.