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CO Hwy 133 closure "putting the squeeze" on businesses in the North Fork and Roaring Fork valleys

 Farm Runners in Hotchkiss, Colorado
Ashley Krest
/
KVNF
Farm Runners in Hotchkiss, Colorado

CDOT’s contractor R.L Wadsworth is fast-tracking a temporary bridge over a large washout that closed Colorado Highway 133 in late April. However, numerous businesses in the North Fork and Roaring Fork Valleys continue to feel the economic impact just as the summer season is fully underway.

KVNF Station Manager Ashley Krest spoke with a couple of businesses in Paonia and Hotchkiss including Big B's Delicious Orchards, Cirque Boutique and Farm Runners who say the road closure is significantly affecting their bottom line. Business is estimated at being down 50 percent for some businesses.

From the Roaring Fork side, CHT Resources out of Carbondale operates a composting facility in Delta County and relies on McClure Pass to haul composting materials to its site in the adobe badlands outside of Delta.

According to Erica Sparhawk, co-owner of the company, the added miles and hours via the I-70 and US 50 detour are adding up financially and making it difficult for the small operation to keep moving compost on a daily basis. The normal hour and 45 minute trip is now over two and a half hours.

On May 15th, nearly three weeks after the closure, CDOT met with several area leaders from Delta and Gunnison County to talk about placing a temporary two lane bridge over the road breakage in order to reopen the highway.

KVNF spoke with CDOT’S Elise Thatcher following the meeting. Thatcher assured listeners that the Highway 133 repair IS a top priority in the state.

Delta County Commissioner Don Suppes and State Representative Matt Soper were among area leaders who attended the CDOT construction site update. Suppes said he made it a point of emphasis with CDOT leaders that highway loss is "a big deal."

Representative Matt Soper said he was in session at the state capitol when news broke that a small sinkhole was forming on the highway. In a matter of hours, he learned that the problem was much bigger than originally thought. Soper talked about the lose of income in the tourist industry.

Businesses struggling with the economic impacts are encouraged to complete a Disaster Injury Worksheet provided by the Small Business Administration for a possible disaster relief loan.

According to Delta County Emergency Management, the state has 120-days from May 2nd to receive information from impacted businesses. That information will then be sent to Governor Polis who may request a Small Business Disaster Declaration which allows businesses to apply for low-interest loans.

Agriculture producers, businesses and local wineries are not eligible for SBA Economic Impact Disaster Loans and will need to apply through the US Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency for agricultural disaster relief support.

If all goes well, the Colorado Highway 133 bridge, being constructed on site over the next several weeks, will be up and ready by the end of June or early July.

Copyright 2023 KVNF - Mountain Grown Community Radio. To see more, visit KVNF - Mountain Grown Community Radio.

Lisa Young