Town of Blue River Press Release
Blue River-In October 2020, the Town of Blue River learned of a proposed semi-truck chain-up station for State Highway 9 in Blue River. The proposed station would be for trucks approaching Hoosier Pass. Over the last five years, there has been a significant increase in both passenger vehicle and semi-truck traffic. During the winter months, traffic is often diverted from I-70 to Hoosier Pass with interstate closures. These diversions are conducted without notice and with little to no support ensuring the highway has sufficient personnel for snow removal and emergency support services.
State Highway 9 is a narrow two-lane highway that passes through the Town of Blue River, which is a residential community with homes lining the highway and over Hoosier Pass to Park County. Speed limits along Highway 9 are 50 mph with little to no shoulder. It is recognized that when ill-equipped trucks or cars try to maneuver Hoosier Pass, it creates both safety and traffic impacts to the area. That impact affects not just traffic on Hoosier Pass but in the surrounding communities. However, the Town of Blue River has significant concerns over the proposed project.
The first and most significant concern is the proposed location along State Highway 9. The proposed location is on private land across from Town Hall. The area poses a significant concern for the wetlands, the Blue River that runs along the proposed construction, impacts to wildlife and quality of life for residents in the immediate area. The proposed chain-up station will expand 40 feet from the edge of the existing highway and over 2500 feet long to accommodate up to 13 semi-trucks per hour during chain-up law periods. The station will resemble those located on the interstate corridors of I-70 and I-25. It is proposed to have lighting that will affect all surrounding homes and neighborhoods.
The proposed location serves as a wildlife corridor for moose, fox, mountain lions, elk and deer. In addition the Blue River, a major tributary to the Goose Pasture Tarn, a source of water for the Town of Breckenridge and Dillon Dam, which is the water source for Denver Water. The construction will encourage additional truck traffic through the residential community. A concern of trash, pollution, camping and encroachment on private land have been voiced from the Town of Blue River.
“The Town of Blue River has a mission to nurture our serene mountain community by conserving our natural residential environment. The proposed chain-up station is not consistent with this mission and will have a significant negative impact on the character of the area.”-Mayor Toby Babich.
“There has been a lack of communication and inclusion of the Town of Blue River up to this point. The Town Board of Trustees is encouraging CDOT to review and consider other locations better suited for this operation.”
The proposed chain-up station is scheduled to be constructed in the summer of 2022. Information on the proposed project including a full list of concerns is available on the Town website at https://townofblueriver.colorado.gov. The Town of Blue River remains committed to preserving the mountain character of the Town and safety of all residents and will work to have all concerns addressed with CDOT. The Town of Blue River welcomes comments on the proposed chain-up station.
Proposed Timeline for Construction
Design: October 2020-November 2021
Project ready for advertisement/bid-February 2022
Construction Commencement-Summer 2022
For more information and to submit comments, please email Michelle Eddy, Town Manager Town of Blue River, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Environmental & Community Concerns
The proposed location for the chain-up station is on primarily on privately owned land on the west side of Highway 9 across from Town Hall.
The proposed chain-up station is designed to hold up to 13 semi-trucks in tandem. The station is proposed to be 40 feet wide and spanning over 2,500 feet in length. The design includes a number of ground mounted lighting fixtures and proposed “buffers” around the parking area together with some landscaping.
- Incompatible with Residential Uses and Aesthetics-The proposed station is to be constructed in similar fashion to other chain-up stations located on major interstate corridors including I-70 and I-25. Unlike these major interstate corridors, Highway 9 is a narrow two-lane road that traverses through a residential community and over a narrow two-lane mountain pass. In the presentation an illustration of the proposed area did not accurately reflect the actual size and negative aesthetic impact this project will have on the community of the Town of Blue River and its residents. The proposal showed few if any measures to reduce the aesthetic impact caused by placing what will essentially be an illuminated truck stop within the Town of Blue River. The proposed station will have a significant negative impact on the community, and surrounding homes.
- Communications- There has been a lack of transparent communication from CDOT Region 2 about their plans. The Town of Blue River was included in the conversation only after hearing from a resident about the proposed station. When contacted, CDOT Region 3 (area with jurisdiction in Blue River) was not aware of the proposed project.
- Environmental Impacts- The proposed chain-up station presents significant environmental concerns.
- The area is primarily comprised of wetlands and is in close proximity to the Blue River, a major tributary to the Goose Pasture Tarn, a source of water for the Town of Breckenridge and Dillon Dam, which is the water source for Denver Water.
- The station would negatively impact wildlife and vegetation. This area is a corridor for moose, fox, deer, elk and mountain lion. The station would result in significant and new sources of noise, lighting, truck and human presence, and pollution.
- Although it was stated that lighting is necessary for truck operator safety and full lighting of the site will only be active during periods when the chain law is in effect, the lights will run continuously at some level. The Town of Blue River enacted an ordinance to reduce lighting impacts and create a more natural night sky. The proposed lighting would violate the ordinance and conflict with the intent of the ordinance.
- Enforcement-Although it was noted by CDOT as a revenue opportunity for the Town, full enforcement is not likely possible The Town of Blue River only has only one officer on duty during each 24 hour period to enforce traffic laws, respond to emergencies and patrol the entire Town. It will be unlikely that citations for unlawful use of the chain-up station will take precedence or priority over the general enforcement obligations of the limited police staff. Colorado State Patrol dedicates only one officer to cover the segment from I-70 to Hoosier Pass. Summit County Sheriff’s Office is limited in manpower due to staffing shortages and unable to provide additional staff to respond to issues at the chain-up station.
- Unlawful or Extended Parking and Camping- With the creation of the chain-up station, there is a concern that trucks and unauthorized cars will utilize the station as a rest stop. This use will result in trash, additional vehicle noise and headlight impacts, exhaust, and pollution to the community.
- Increased in Large Region or Interstate Truck Traffic-Over the last several years there has been a significant increase in large truck traffic over Hoosier Pass utilizing Highway 9 through Blue River. This concern has been brought to the attention of CDOT, Region 3. Much of the increase is from the development of a gravel quarry in Park County and trucks hauling loads over Hoosier Pass. In addition, trucks making regional or interstate trips look to avoid I-70 traffic and closures and may seek to utilize Hoosier Pass as an alternative route. The availability of a chain-up station in Blue River, while perhaps of value to local trucks that have no alternative route for travel between locations will likely increase the use of this narrow, two lane mountain road for large trucks that should remain on I-70 due to the nature of their destinations.
- Hazardous Loads-Trucks carrying hazardous materials should not be, according to the CDOT Hazardous Routes website, utilizing Hoosier Pass and State Highway 9. This is an emergency route. The highway is narrow and abuts wetlands and the Blue River. The CDOT presentation touted increased safety for trucks that should not be utilizing the pass.
- Traffic-Due to continuing issues with I-70 and in cases where I-70 is closed, Hoosier Pass is promoted as an alternative route. In addition, with the increase of residents living in Park County and commuting to work in Summit County, there has been a significant increase in traffic over Hoosier Pass and Highway 9 through Blue River. The highway is a narrow two-lane winding highway. Road conditions are often challenging due to adverse weather, wildlife presence, and vehicles entering and existing a significant number of access points from streets and driveways. There are little or no shoulders on Highway 9 through Blue River. The State of Colorado set a speed limit of 50 mph through the residential area of the Town of Blue River. All of these factors pose a concern currently with existing traffic. It should not be the goal of CDOT to encourage and increase the use of this route by additional truck traffic.
- Lack of a “Chain-Down” Station or Other Area-In the CDOT presentation, it was stated there are no plans, at this time, for a chain-down station to allow truck operators to remove chains after clearing Hoosier Pass. Trucks will therefore continue to I-70 with chains or will or chain-down “wherever” they can. However, it was the expressly stated the reason for the selection of the Blue River location for this chain-up station to reduce the running of chained trucks through Blue River which will cause noise impacts to residents and roadway damage. Without a chain-down, northbound chained trucks will continue to travel through Blue River thereby defeating the expressly stated reason for the location of this chain-up station. Worst case, large trucks may attempt to stop on the few tight should areas along Highway 9 in Blue River to chain-down, resulting in unsafe conditions and traffic conflicts.
The proposed area is along the Blue River. Endangered Greenback Cutthroat Trout have been found in the river. In addition moose are prevalent in the area using this open space as breeding ground each year. The photo on the end is the proposed area that will be impacted.