Taylor River Road construction will include two road closures
Written by Aimee Brown   
Wednesday, 01 May 2013
Safety of Jack’s Cabin Cut-off questioned

Road construction will continue on Taylor River Road this summer, and this time it will be accompanied by closures on two distinct sections of road.


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The planned closures will occur in two zones between Almont and Jack’s Cabin Cut-off, said Marlene Crosby, director of Gunnison County Public Works. In order to retain access to a private property located along the construction zone only one section of the road will be closed at a time.
 “There will be access to private land either traveling upriver from Almont, or, if that section of road is closed, from Jack’s Cabin down,” said Crosby.
The closures were incorporated into the construction plan because of the significant cost savings they would afford the county, and because they should allow the construction to be completed in 2013. Savings related to the closures are expected to reach approximately $250,000 just in costs directly related to flaggers and pilot cars.
This is the second year of construction on Taylor River Road, and according to Gunnison County, this summer’s work should represent the final phase of the project. All work is expected to be completed by late September or early October.
“We want our residents to be able to enjoy the beauty of the Taylor Canyon and the reservoir area, so a detour is being provided that will allow access to all of the recreation areas and businesses from Harmels to the reservoir,” said county officials in a statement on the Public Works Road and Bridge webpage. “The detour will add 10+ minutes to your actual travel time, but will keep our visitors and residents from being held in traffic stops, or driving through rough construction areas. When there is a closure on either section of the lower road there will be no delays for those using the Jack’s Cabin Cut-Off. If the Taylor Road does not have absolute closures, there may be flagging zones at various locations through the project.”
While all road closures will be announced two weeks in advance and access to the majority of the canyon should be retained, Mark Schumacher, a local resident and owner of Three Rivers Resort and Outfitting in Almont, told the Gunnison County Commissioners that construction would be devastating to his business, and to people wishing to safely visit Taylor Canyon and the reservoir area.
“The blood is going to be on your hands, it’s not going to be on my hands,” said Schumacher during an Unscheduled Citizens session at the April 2 County Commissioner’s meeting. “I’ve watched the traffic at Taylor’s Canyon the last 30 years. The last 20 years my office has looked right down on the road. You’re going to have food service, semis, beer distributors, you’re going to have cattle trucks going up there. There’s three houses being built in Taylor Canyon; you’re going to have construction traffic, you’re going to have redi-mix trucks going over there. There’s no place to change a flat tire on Jack’s Cabin on the Taylor side. There’s no place if someone breaks down, there’s no place for any of that. There’s no room, zero.”
In addition to safety concerns, Schumacher said he felt that he had been misled about the impact the construction would have on his business, and on recreation in Taylor Canyon.
 “I’m going to take 5,000 people over that this summer…we’re going to have 15 passenger vans with trailers on the back and all the RV’s—there’s 500 camp spots above Almont—all those old people driving those things, and all the other people headed over for recreation. You can’t even fit two-way traffic over those cattle guards on Jack’s Cabin. It’s going to a disaster,” Schumacher added.
The County has made plans for some improvements to Jack’s Cabin Cutoff prior to the closure detours going into affect, said Crosby. These include the replacement of narrow cattle guards, the widening of the road in select sessions and fixing a few drainage issues. In addition, the intersection where Jack’s Cabin meets Taylor River Road will be improved before the main construction begins this summer.
“We feel that from a time and safety perspective, Jack’s Cabin meets the needs of the county for this project,” said Crosby. “There may be some waits associated with traffic turning onto [Highway] 135, but there were waits last year.”
Dates for construction to begin are not yet set, but will be determined once a contractor’s bid has been accepted by the county, which should be at the end of April.
“We do know that there will be no work over the holiday weekends,” said Crosby. “That should give us a good break from the construction.”