Access to Pinewood Springs Via Highway 36

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There have been a lot of questions, rumors and confusion about the ability to access Pinewood via vehicles on highway 36. It’s understandable as there are several agencies involved and the communication flow is slow. Resources are stretched with so much destruction. That said, I’m working with the right people with authority so we can get answers to our questions. Included in this effort was a 20-minute phone call with Ashley Mohr, the official CDOT spokeswoman. She wanted you all to know that they are having a meeting tomorrow morning (Tuesday, October 7) to discuss Pinewood and will have more answers after that meeting. They have been focused in so many directions (including the reopening of highway 119) but highway 36 is a big priority. There will be an organized public information meeting in the future and she will be in touch with me tomorrow to discuss the potential schedule and location for that. Until then, I will be in touch with Ashley directly and would consider her updates and directives to be more credible than any other source.

Here is what we do know….

1) The road construction is slightly ahead of schedule and crews are very motivated to meet or beat the December 1st deadline. The Utah National Guard took over for the Colorado National Guard this last weekend. This is good news because the Utah Guard is a team of expert road-building engineers. In a few weeks they will be replaced by another guard unit from Montana. According the Sergeant I spoke with at the National Guard, the Montana group are experienced at building runways and their mission is to add a layer of temporary road similar to asphalt or concrete that is very thin and can withstand the snow plow blades. That is what will get us through winter.

2) During all this process there may or may not be access to Pinewood by car between Lyons and Estes. The answer to that question varies depending upon who you ask and what day you ask. It is also subject to change in the future due to weather or the construction process. Here is the bottom line…. According to CDOT and all the local authorities, highway 36 is a hard closure to commuter traffic. This means the road can not be accessed between 7:00 AM and 6:00 PM daily (including weekends.) Sometimes there are breaks in this closure due to changes in guard units and weather. However, local law officials, CDOT workers and the guard troops are empathetic with all of our needs to visit our homes. Now that the road repairs have evolved from destruction to a somewhat passable rocky road, they have been balancing this basic human need of our residents with the need to keep the road closed for repairs. During a gap in the construction schedule, they allowed some residents to drive to Pinewood up highway 36. Again, they are trying to accommodate our needs but their main mission is to stay on track and to keep traffic limited to construction and law personnel. If there are too many residents trying to access the roads then they will quickly tighten up that unofficial policy. Recent resident use is already on the radar of all the cooperating authorities.

3) Residents are still accessing their homes by driving to Estes via highway 7 and walking in from the break in the highway at CR-47. That area is being controlled by CDOT and they allow foot traffic on the hour from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM each day. The area is still being patrolled by Larimer County Sheriff’s office and a security team of residents who didn’t evacuate and continue to live in their homes. As of yesterday, highway 119 through Boulder Canyon has reopened and is available as another route to Pinewood. If you are in the area, make sure you have your resident access pass and driver’s license showing your Pinewood address. As of this writing both the original green pass obtained at the LifeBridge Church and the new blue credential pass issued by Larimer County Sheriff are ok to use. If you don’t have a pass, you can get one by visiting the Estes Park Police Station or the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office in Fort Collins. It is expected that access will only get tighter so don’t forget to carry that pass. Be sure to bring your vehicle license plate numbers as they are recorded and will be used for monitoring traffic in Pinewood.

As for the question… “Can I drive to my home in Pinewood?“…..the official answer is no… but the reality is it is up to the people manning the checkpoints. Although Ashley didn’t want me to encourage a mass caravan of traffic, those of you who absolutely have to get to your homes by car to winterize or get your car or belongings out… you can try to do it now and you may be allowed in…the key word is maybe. Ashley said she will stand behind what the local checkpoints are allowing local Pinewood residents to do for the time being but it will be short-lived. So, if you don’t really have a truly urgent need to try and drive directly to Pinewood, then please don’t even try to do it. If too many cars use the road, they will shut it down. If someone gets stuck due to driving the wrong vehicle or causes damage in the road… or slows construction progress, they will shut it down. The road isn’t complete, it doesn’t have guardrails and it isn’t ready for steady traffic.

The reality is, the infrastructure in Pinewood Springs isn’t ready for us to return home. Because of the road conditions, limited water and lack of communications, an occasional random window of access to Pinewood by car does not mean it is a good idea to try and move back in or commute from there. And as a reminder, emergency services are also very limited with just a few trained personnel in Pinewood. Pinewood Springs Firefighter, Randy Craner remained in the neighborhood for FEMA and construction workers lodging, basic life support or fires. For emergencies, the residents remaining will have to go to Randy’s home at the Little Elk Meadows Lodge so that he can deploy support if needed. This is only until phone lines are re-established and the normal 911 system is available again.

I will continue to update this site as I find out more information from authorized sources that is accurate and dependable.

-Laura

9 Comments

  1. Heather Shoffner
    Oct 7, 2013

    This is very great information – thank you. The most clarity I’ve had. One question – is the goal of December 1st to have a commutable road as described by Warren (minimum 24′ roadway with shoulders, guardrails as appropriate and paving sufficient to withstand snow plows)?

    Thank you!

    • admin
      Oct 7, 2013

      I believe so Heather but I will know more in the coming days.

  2. David Kostel
    Oct 7, 2013

    Thanks, Gabi and all who keep us informed. Lois and I have split up ;she is with some of her family in Ohio and I am with mine in South Dakota——not a very satisfactory situation. but bearable.

  3. dave stine
    Oct 7, 2013

    Thanks for the facts. It has been difficult to get facts reported directly between government folks and good listeners. This is what we need way more of.
    I have.leased a three month apartment on 66 which may be about a realistic timetable for getting back and forth safely.
    Best wishes to all those displaced by the water.
    Dave Stine

  4. Linda Beach
    Oct 8, 2013

    Thanks for this information! Even though I’m not a Pinewood Springs resident it’s very helpful to know there is good progress on Highway 36 for those of us further up in the mountains.

  5. Sharon Salman
    Oct 8, 2013

    Pinewood residents: My husband and I lived in Pinewood 26yrs.ago with our then 4 teenagers. It makes me so sad to see the destruction and danger the good people in Pinewood are enduring. May you all stay safe and work through this heart wrenching experience. It will be a peaceful place to go home to again. Sharon Salman

  6. Thad quesada
    Oct 9, 2013

    Thanks for the info. Last night I returned from Longmont thru Lyons all the way to Estes. It was our first excursion off the mountain to get Mail etc. We were able to drive thru all the way back to our new home in Allenspark.
    Be aware that it is extremely rough going between Lyons & Pinewood, so I would suggest not driving it unless you really need to.
    Hope all are well,
    Thad

  7. Richard Salmon
    Oct 12, 2013

    Thank you so much for your timely and informative comments! I have one question which has not been asked as far as I know on this site…are FEMA inspectors being permitted to enter Pinewood homes for damage inspection at this time? If not when will they be?
    Thanks
    Richard

    • admin
      Oct 12, 2013

      Hi, I believe you will see that happen soon. There is a juggling act with the national guard and their construction schedule on a daily basis. Have you called FEMA to schedule it?

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