By Tim Friday
Clear Creek soon will be swollen with spring runoff, and many of us are itching to get on the water. This has me thinking about the Peaks to Plains Trail project and its impact on river navigability as well as access to the traditional put-in/take-out spots.
I recently corresponded with Scot Grossman, Jeffco Open Space Project Manager, for this project, and things are moving forward with Segment 1 (Canyon Mouth to west end of Tunnel 1). A request for qualifications for contractors will be issued in the next few weeks, and Scot expects that a design-build contract for this segment will be in place by early fall. This means that work should begin late in 2017 and will continue into 2018.
So, for those of us who are interested in running this section of river in the 2017 season, the project will have no impact this year. Once a contract is awarded, CW will work with Scot/Jeffco to try to ensure that the river remains navigable during paddling season next year. This means we will try to ensure that the contractor avoids placing any temporary river crossings that would make boat passage unsafe or impossible.
Upstream on Segment 7, one temporary river crossing remains in place around mile marker 262.5. The contractor is in the process of realigning Highway 6 near mile marker 262.5 to accommodate a new parking lot downstream of Mayhem Gulch. The “Big Easy Recreation Area” will include parking for over fifty cars, a permanent restroom, multiple river access points, picnic areas, and a new bridge across the creek. The planned opening date is early September 2017. This is upstream of the existing Black Rock put-in, but traffic will be impacted in both directions, and this could cause delays and backups, especially during periods of heavy traffic. Once completed, this could become the preferred put-in for Black Rock.
Another positive thing to note is that the temporary river crossing will be removed in early May this year, so the river once again will be fully navigable from Lawson to Golden in 2017.
I have not been in the Canyon for a few months, so I don’t know how it looks other than what I can see in photographs on the website. There is no schedule yet for constructing any other segments other than Segment 1.