Letter: Re-open Rollins Pass as a bike path,
Re-open Rollins Pass as a bike path
As a Denver native and a frequent visitor to Grand County, I’m fascinated with Rollins/Corona Pass. It’s a marvel of railroad engineering and a testament to the character of a bygone era. It’s exciting to imagine re-opening the road. However, a recent news article spoke of “repairing the Rollins Pass road… to allow two-wheel drive vehicles.” That would be a mistake. Rather than re-open the pass for automobile traffic, Grand County would be better served by re-opening the pass as a bike path following the “rails to trails” model. To begin, it would be easier and more cost effective to re-open and maintain Rollins Pass as a bike path. Moreover, Winter Park is working to establish itself as a mountain biking capital. Think of the benefits of opening a bike path over Rollins Pass. It’s easy to imagine Front Range cyclists rushing to use the trail. It’s easy to envision the tourist draw Winter Park could create by having a dedicated bike path over the continental divide. Working with the railroads, funding might be secured to restore the pass as a living museum of Colorado railroad history; complete with photographs, wooden trestles, artifacts, monuments and points of interests. Working with the Forest Service, approval could be obtained to allow a vendor to establish a series of rest stops to include bathrooms, refreshments, first-aid and Wi-Fi. Working with the state as well as Boulder, Gilpin and Clear Creek counties, additional funds might be identified for the project. Few users would balk at having to pay a reasonable user fee to help fund operations.
Bikers would arrive in Winter Park in need of food and lodging. Many would ride the pass only in one direction so would be in need of shuttle service. Many might prefer to rent rather than haul bicycles. Hikers would also be attracted. A connection to the Fraser River/Granby trail would be a natural, creating an uninterrupted bike path from Rollinsville to Granby. There’s the possibility of using portions of a Rollins Pass trail as a cross country skiing and snowmobile destination during the winter months. There is longstanding interest in Colorado in re-opening Rollins Pass. Meaning, there are a lot of allies willing to lend support to this type of effort. I encourage Grand County residents to consider a Rollins Pass bike path. I hope you’ll agree this could be a really exciting opportunity!
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