Summit County Government

Posted on: August 25, 2015

Vail Resorts Inc., Town of Breckenridge and Summit County Partner on Iron Springs Funding

Public-private partnership will provide additional $1 million in local matching funds for Highway 9 realignment between Frisco and Breckenridge

Thad Noll, Assistant County Manager, Summit County
Kristin Kenney Williams, Vice President, Mountain Community Affairs, Vail Resorts
Kim Dykstra, Director of Communications, Town of Breckenridge

SUMMIT COUNTY – Vail Resorts Inc., the Town of Breckenridge and Summit County have each pledged to contribute $337,000 in local matching funds toward the State Highway 9 Iron Springs project, which will improve highway safety, restore wetlands habitat and eliminate a major traffic bottleneck between Frisco and Breckenridge.

“We’re excited about this opportunity to partner with Summit County, the Town of Breckenridge and the Town of Frisco on a transportation project that will result in big wins for the entire community,” Breckenridge Ski Resort Vice President and COO John Buhler said. “We’re proud to be able to work collaboratively with CDOT and our local partners to improve the arrival experience for Breckenridge Ski Resort guests.”

The Iron Springs project is a critical component of CDOT’s larger, multiphase plan to improve safety, ease traffic congestion and enhance public transit movement along the Highway 9 corridor between Breckenridge and Frisco. The Iron Springs section of the highway runs from Farmer’s Korner to the intersection with Peak One Drive and Recreation Way in Frisco.

“The Iron Springs segment of Highway 9 is the culmination of many years of work by the Town, County, Frisco and Vail Resorts, who joined together to improve this important corridor, which serves one of the most popular ski resorts in North America,” Breckenridge Mayor John Warner said. “The new alignment not only saves money, but also protects open space, wetlands and views of the reservoir.”

In 2013, Summit County and the Town of Frisco entered into an agreement with CDOT to provide a 25 percent local match toward the project, which was estimated to cost $17.5 million at the time. Because of increasing construction costs statewide, and the requirement for several wildlife habitat protection measures, CDOT recently increased its estimate to $22.6 million. In order for the project to proceed, CDOT required that local partners contribute an additional 20 percent match – or $1,012,000 – toward the cost increase.

“This is one of the last remaining stretches of the Highway 9 corridor that features only one lane in each direction, and traffic can be awful there during weekends and holidays, particularly in snowy weather,” Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson said. “Without this additional local match, the opportunity to pursue these improvements could have been pushed out decades into the future, and we would have missed the boat on a $17 million investment of state money into our transportation infrastructure.”

The planned realignment will eliminate “Leslie’s Curve,” a tight compound curve that has been the site of numerous traffic accidents over the years. CDOT will also widen Highway 9 from two to four lanes and relocate it away from the edge of Dillon Reservoir, close to the current alignment of the Iron Springs Recpath. Wetlands restoration will take place along the reservoir, and the Recpath will be moved closer to the current Highway 9 alignment.

The project will include wildlife crossings to reduce habitat fragmentation, as well as some offsite wildlife habitat restoration. A series of broad tunnels under the highway will eliminate the need for cyclists and other Recpath users to cross the highway at several locations.

With the following local contributions now committed, CDOT will send the Iron Springs project to bid this fall, and construction will take place during the summers of 2016 and 2017:

  • Town of Breckenridge: $337,000 in direct funding
  • Vail Resorts: $337,000 in direct funding
  • Town of Frisco: Land donations valued at $360,000 and parking and recreational pathway maintenance valued at $90,000
  • Summit County: Land donations valued at $1.9 million, Vail Pass Recpath maintenance valued at $890,000, $1.1 million in in-kind donations and $337,000 in direct funding.

In 2013, CDOT introduced the Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships (RAMP) program to accelerate construction projects throughout the state using local matching funds. After an extensive review process, the state selected a list of RAMP projects that included Iron Springs. In order to nominate a project for inclusion in the program, CDOT required that public and private partners commit a minimum match of 20 percent.


Additional Info: December 2015 update (pdf)
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