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With two major events scheduled to hit Pagosa Country within the next week — FolkWest’s sixth annual Folk ’N Bluegrass Festival starts tomorrow and the Denver Post’s 28th annual Ride the Rockies bicycle tour comes through town June 11 — the Colorado Department of Transportation has decided to start a repaving project this week for the downtown section of U.S. 160.
“CDOT has announced they are paving through downtown next week,” town planner James Dickhoff informed town council at the May 23 meeting. “They’ll start on Tuesday and they plan on completing it next week, which is a surprise. Our streets department is participating by supplying and installing ‘No Parking’ signs to accommodate the project, so we will see a lot of activity on (the) main street next week.”
SUN staff took a walking tour of Reservoir Hill Tuesday evening and discovered that campers had started setting up their camps and the head of festival security, Rick “Bear” Bolhouse, had begun patrolling the area to keep unauthorized people out. In addition, roadblocks had been set up, with security personnel stopping vehicles.
Soon, the town will be flooded with eager festivalgoers, and those visitors will have just barely left the area when the next big event hits town.
“Ride the Rockies will be here next Tuesday,” Chamber of Commerce Director Mary Jo Coulehan reminded everyone at this week’s meeting of the Community Development Corporation, as she handed out posters for the event so people could display them in windows at businesses.
“They will be here for one night only,” Coulehan explained. “They will be here fairly early, around noon, on Tuesday. They’ll be coming from Durango. There will be a Party in the Park from twelve to nine. Thanks to FolkWest we are able to keep over one of their major groups — The Black Lilies — and they will be playing in the park the evening of June 11.”
Coulehan has asked that any local restaurant planning to open early Wednesday morning contact her at the Chamber of Commerce. There will be camping available to riders at Pagosa Springs High School, and several food vendors will be operating at that location, however, in the past many riders have preferred to get some coffee and a quick bite of breakfast at one of the restaurants in town and then hit the road early to beat the heat of the day.
“Ride the Rockies has also given one of our non-profit agencies — Seeds of Learning — a five thousand dollar grant,” Coulehan announced. “We are pretty excited about that. They give a five thousand dollar grant in every community the tour goes through.”
Coulehan explained the tour will include 2,000 bicycle riders, as well as their staff, so the population of Pagosa Springs will grow by approximately 2,500 people for 24 hours. CDC board member Morgan Murri, who is also the director of GECKO (Giving Every Child Knowledge of the Outdoors) and an avid participant in extreme athletic events, later explained Ride the Rockies is one of the most popular bike tours in the nation and uses a lottery system to limit participation to 2,000.
“After the ride has gone through,” Coulehan continued, “Ride the Rockies is asking us to do an economic impact study, so we will be sending that out to all of the businesses. We hope they will fill it out; it’s really important to see what the impact is so they have an idea.”
Ken Vickerstaff, who had just given a presentation to the CDC on his business, GeoGrown, asked if the downtown repaving project would be done in time for the Ride the Rockies tour, and Coulehan responded, “When we first looked at this they assured me that it would be done in time.”
The next day (Tuesday), SUN staff called CDOT spokesperson Nancy Shanks to confirm the timeline of the repaving project.
“It looks like it is a brief maintenance project,” Shanks verified Tuesday. “It wraps up Thursday (today), which is good news. They started milling yesterday and today. It looks like they will be out there from eight to six each day, and will wrap up Thursday evening.” Shanks explained that, in the summer, CDOT crews normally work ten hours per day, but only four days per week, so they will not be working on Friday, when the festival starts.
“The milling of the top layer of asphalt,” Shanks concluded, “will help get rid of some of those cracks to prevent them from reflecting back up versus just laying down a top coat. You might get those cracks back next winter or spring. They call it a ‘mill and fill.’”
If all goes according to schedule, visitors to Pagosa Springs will be greeted by fresh pavement on the east end of the town’s main thoroughfare. If not, they will be forced to navigate a maze of orange barrels with only one lane of traffic in each direction.