Dillon Dam Road reopens
Aspen, CO Colorado
DILLON, Colo. ” A road along Dillon Reservoir that Denver Water utility officials closed over security concerns reopened Friday with some restrictions, thanks to a compromise reached with Summit County officials.
“The recommendations strike a balance between public access and dam security by mitigating vulnerabilities based on most probable threats and possible consequences,” said Mason Whitney, director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, who helped both sides reach an agreement.
County officials had complained that Denver Water closed the road to the dam with little notice on July 9. They said barriers placed across the road impeded emergency access for ambulances and fire trucks.
Representatives of Summit County emergency agencies and governments filed a lawsuit over Denver Water’s move July 11, and a judge referred the matter to mediation.
On Friday, both sides agreed the Dillon Dam Road would be open to two-axle passenger vehicles and emergency vehicles but will be closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Denver Water agreed to pay for officers to be stationed at each end of the dam to enforce vehicle restrictions.
Trailers, RVs and trucks that are more than 13,000 pounds will not be allowed, but emergency vehicles will have full access.
In the long-term, Denver Water said, an alternate road may be needed to connect one side of the reservoir to the other without going across the dam.
Summit County officials said Denver Water never identified a specific threat to the dam, which is about 70 miles west of Denver and provides water for the Denver area. However, security assessments have concluded the dam is vulnerable because of easy public access and its earth fill construction, Denver Water said.
State Rep. Christine Scanlan, whose district includes Summit County, said federal funds will be needed to make the dam less susceptible to the threats.
“We have had a 40-year somewhat tough relationship with Denver Water, going back to when they built the dam and moved the town of Dillon. There are some people with long, long memories being displaced, so there’s some contentiousness built up around this issue,” Scanlan said. “Going forward we have got to find a different way to work together.”
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While many are breathing a sigh of relief at the loosening of local restrictions, some are feeling hesitant and are questioning whether the county is moving too quickly.