Berthoud Pass Winter Park Mountain Access Project

This starts a five part series of posts on the the Berthound Pass Mountain Access Project and the thoughts of a Winter Park business owner and resident.

On November 16, 2006, a notable event took place that will affect the future driving experiences of hundreds of thousands of people every year from that day forward. At a special grand opening ceremony that took place at the Hard Rock Café in Empire, Colorado, and attended by dignitaries from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Winter Park Resort, the final widening project on the east side of Berthoud Pass was officially declared “finished”. The total cost of the project which took place over a seven-year time-frame, was approximately $76 million.

Construction on the Berthoud Pass Project began on May 15, 1999. I remember reading the original CDOT report (I’m weird like that) and saying “you’ve got to be kidding”, when I read that it was going to be a 7-year project. There’s a slight qualification here, in so far as construction work for obvious reasons only took place during the summer and fall months, and ceased when winter snow conditions really set in. Berthoud Pass receives more than 400 inches of snow annually.

Now widening a road as it winds through the mountains is an entirely different cup of tea to widening a road – say – in the central plains of Kansas. Effectively there now exists paved highway where there was once pure Colorado Mountain air! Facing walls were constructed in areas where the road had to be etched into the existing slopes. The excavated material was hauled off the mountain, processed at a nearby crusher, and then hauled back to be used as backfill for those stretches that required building up on the slope to the lower side of the highway.

There were other important considerations however for the engineers. As Nancy Shanks, PR specialist with CDOT reports, they “would need to reconcile the frequently conflicting aspects of road geometry, safety, wildlife and forest impacts, aesthetic considerations, and water quality requirements.” The environmental considerations were given prime importance as the Berthoud Pass ecosystem suffered when sand and gravel applied to the roadway to improve traction eventually wound up in local rivers and on forest floors.

Continued reading:

  • Berthoud Pass Mountain Access Project
  • A History of Berthoud Pass
  • Berthoud Pass a Grand Prix Track?
  • Conclusions