U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 27, 2002
Contact: Steve Moler
FHWA Announces Plan For Guanella Pass Road With Project That Supports Mobility, Respects Environment
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced the selection, as FHWA's preferred alternative, of a plan to upgrade Guanella Pass Road in Colorado. The action is in the project's final environmental impact statement (FEIS) released by FHWA to the public today.
FHWA Administrator Mary Peters characterized the project as an ideal example of a transportation project development philosophy called context-sensitive design. Context-sensitive design is intended to provide a safe, efficient transportation system that is sensitive to the human and natural environment.
"As now proposed, the Guanella Pass Road project is a great example of context-sensitive design in action: creating a safer facility that serves the needs of local residents and visitors alike while respecting the surrounding environment," Peters said. "We are committed to continuing our close and effective partnership with local officials and communities in the area on this project."
The road, which extends about 23 miles from Georgetown in Clear Creek County south to Grant in Park County, was built in the 1950s and is in need of upgrading. Through more than 11 years of environmental and engineering analysis, reconnaissance and scoping reports, numerous public meetings and one-on-one meetings with major stakeholders, FHWA developed six alternatives, including a no-build option, for the road. After extensive consultation with local residents, businesses and elected officials, the FHWA identified Alternative 6 as its preferred alternative.
FHWA said that Alternative 6 minimizes full reconstruction yet improves safety, enhances the environment, and reduces maintenance, all in support of the purpose and need of the project. FHWA has reduced the design of the road to the greatest extent possible so that the road closely follows the existing road and the impact on previously undisturbed areas is minimized. Also, FHWA would construct a 7th Street Bridge in Georgetown to minimize the impact that construction traffic would have on local traffic and businesses in the Georgetown area. The agency will also develop construction schedules to accommodate businesses along Guanella Pass Road.
Under the preferred alternative, about 63 percent of the roadway improvements will consist of rehabilitation, which means most work would remain within the existing roadway. About 18 percent of the project would involve light reconstruction, where work would remain within previously disturbed areas of the existing roadway, and about 19 percent will include full reconstruction, where work would extend outside the existing roadway.
Under federal law, FHWA cannot issue its final decision, called a record of decision, any earlier than 30 days after publication of the FEIS. However, because of public interest in this project, FHWA has extended this period an additional 30 days. If significant concerns are raised or new ideas or issues presented, the FHWA will take them under consideration as part of the public involvement process.
FHWA said that context-sensitive design is not an added federal mandate or an additional step in the project development process. Rather, it is philosophy and an approach that involves all stakeholders in developing a transportation facility that fits its physical setting and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historic, and environmental resources, while maintaining safety and mobility. It considers the total context within which a transportation improvement project will exist.
Copies of the FEIS and supporting technical reports can be found on the Internet at http://www.cflhd.gov/projects/StateProjectDetails.cfm?State=CO&WebProjectUID=10510, and at the following locations beginning today: