Shawn Nau's op-ed piece, (Herald, Jan. 24) concerning Ewing Mesa warrants further information. The referenced letter of
intent between La Plata County and Oakridge Energy was on the agenda for the Dec. 21, 2009, meeting of the county
commissioners. Meeting materials included a final draft and submission form recommending approval. If not for the
strong objections of Greg Hoch, director of Planning and Community Development for the city of Durango, it appears the
commissioners intended to approve the document.
In support of the letter, meeting materials included a detailed map describing the three phases of a proposed road
system: Phase 1, connecting Ewing Mesa to Grandview and the Bridge to Nowhere"; Phase 2, connecting Ewing Mesa to
Colorado Highway 3 and Horse Gulch, and further connecting Horse Gulch to County Road 234; and Phase 3, connecting
Ewing Mesa to U.S. Highway 160. In accordance with the letter, the easement rights granted by Oakridge would terminate
if construction is not completed in seven years for Phase 1, in 12 years for Phase 2 and in 15 years for Phase 3.
Additionally, the county agrees to diligently pursue such earlier completion" if practical and financing becomes
Materials also included a conceptual drawing from the 2006 traffic study by Durango and La Plata County. This drawing
aligned the proposed road system with an extensive development in Ewing Mesa including residential, commercial, two
resorts and a golf course. The cost estimate of the above road projects, excluding the extension of Horse Gulch, was
$58 million. The 2006 traffic study concluded that the connection of Horse Gulch to County Road 234 was not
The 2010 La Plata County budget indicates the county has no funds for these projects, and the only conclusion is that
the county intends to file for state and federal grants for funding. The potential for accelerated construction is real
if these grants are made available. A review of the Colorado Department of Transportation Web site shows that the
Bridge to Nowhere" was an accelerated project built with stimulus funds at a cost of more than $50 million.
Horse Gulch is the crown jewel of Durango recreation areas - get involved.
Tom Orsini, Durango