For anyone who participated in the April 2 meeting with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNGR) representatives, La Plata County Manager Chuck Stevens, Colorado Department of Transportation officials, and the representatives of Rockwood, it would have been difficult to walk away without a deep understanding of the very real and serious safety issues, extreme fire ris, and road (County Roads 200 and 550) issues faced by the residents of Rockwood every day that the train operates out of Rockwood.
Historically, the train has passed through the Rockwood substation for many years during the silver mining era, but it wasn’t until 2020 that management decided to base operations from Rockwood, citing COVID-19 restrictions. The history of the D&SNGR is interesting and colorful, but this is 2021 and COVID-19 restrictions are being loosened.
The operation is now in a wholly residential area accessed on a winding, tightly curved, two-lane county road, where the number of vehicles from residents already exceeds the road infrastructure, thereby not meeting the county’s compliance codes for the road, according to La Plata Public Works.
Imagine adding 400 more vehicles every day.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jeff Johnson, D&SNGR general manager, and Chuck Stevens for their participation, and respectfully ask that the D&SNGR center of operations be returned to downtown Durango, where there is adequate infrastructure to accommodate this volume of tourism, and where it will benefit many businesses trying to recover from the pandemic.