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Popular Mountain Pass In Need Of More Attention, Tolls Possible

CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - Drivers could have to pay a toll to drive a busy mountain pass.

Clear Creek County is looking for a way to pay for improvements on Guanella Pass. The pass is just south of Georgetown and provides a link between Interstate 70 and Highway 285 to the south.

The users on the stretch of road have been increasing. Now county leaders are trying to figure out how to pay for all the repairs from use on the pass, and how to add parking and improve campgrounds and trailheads.

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"Very busy; middle of the night there are quite a few," said Jody Romero.

Romero and her family went to Guanella Pass looking for the perfect camp spot.

"I'm a native, so Colorado is beautiful and everyone is moving here, and the more traffic, it does a lot of damage," Romero said.

She is not alone. Visitors have been putting the squeeze on limited resources.

"This place is beautiful, it's magnificent," a visitor said. "There's mountains everywhere, what's not to love?"

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"People come up here and they can't find a campground and they have to park next to the side of the road," said Tim Mauck, Clear Creek County Commissioner. "I don't think that that's really kind of what they've come looking for."

The pass is a victim of its own success. Since officials finished paving the road earlier this year the spike in visits is creating headaches for its managers.

"It's also increasing demands on our EMS services, our sheriff's department," Mauck said.

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Commissioners are brainstorming solutions to keep up with the increase in visits and ways to pay for more improvements.

"The concept that was thrown out regarding a toll road on Guanella Pass was just a small concept that was thrown out as a possible idea in the mix of multiple ideas," Mauck said.

But as visits increase, commissioners say something must be done to keep up.

They are also looking at launching a shuttle on the road to eliminate some of the traffic congestion, and charging for parking along the pass. Nothing is final, however, and it could take years for any of those options to be implemented.

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