Nuclear plant eyes state

An atomic future is taking shape in Colorado. Last week, Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., spoke in favor his bill encouraging nuclear power development. Meanwhile, a nuclear power plant developer has expressed interest in Pueblo County.

Udall has signed on as co-sponsor for a proposed bill that would enable the Department of Energy to increase its support it to small and medium-sized nuclear power plant development. Last Thursday, he took to the Senate floor and discussed nuclear energy’s place in the “new energy economy.”

“Given the economic, national security and environmental threats that our current energy system creates, we need a comprehensive and cleaner energy policy,” he said. “In this regard, nuclear energy clearly has emerged as an important player in our search for a stable and domestic energy source that has less greenhouse gas emissions.”

Udall continued that atomic energy cannot be discounted as a viable, safe and green energy source. “A cleaner energy economy will spur innovation in and accelerate the shift to clean and domestic energy sources,” he said. “It will create a new industrial sector employing millions of Americans in the research, development, manufacture, sale, installation and servicing of new energy technologies.”

Early this fall, nuclear power plant developer Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. visited the Centennial State to determine lawmaker support for a combination nuclear/solar plant in Pueblo County. The company has spotlighted Colorado because of its commitment to clean energy and replacing aging coal plants.

Alternate Energy Holdings CEO Don Gillispie told Colorado Energy News, said the company was encouraged by the support from businessmen, labor leaders, politicians and members of the state’s administration. “They clearly understand that nuclear plants not only create clean power necessary to help with environmental challenges, but low-cost, reliable energy to stabilize the electric grid while creating thousands of high-paying jobs,” he said.

The company is the only developer in the nation willing to break ground in non-nuclear states, according to the report. Alternate Energy is also a somewhat diversified company. Its subsidiary, Energy Neutral, focuses on reducing energy demands from homes and business. The company is involved in biofuels generation and assisting developing countries with nuclear reactors.

Colorado inks bicycle/ped policy

In a boon for pedestrians and pedalers, the Colorado Department of Transportation widened its definition of “transportation” last week. In a landmark move, CDOT’s Transportation Commission adopted a groundbreaking statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Policy on Oct. 15.

The new policy was passed by unanimous vote and mandates that the agency account for nonmotorized transportation in all future projects. The wording directs that “the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians shall be included in the planning, design and operation of transportation facilities, as a matter of routine.” Division of Transportation Development Director Jennifer Finch noted the significance of the move, saying, “This is a change in philosophy for the Department.”

The policy is truly a landmark change for cyclists, according to Bicycle Colorado’s Executive Director Dan Grunig. “We have passed positive bicycle legislation and overturned bike bans, but passing this policy may be the biggest step we’ve taken toward bicyclists being treated as legitimate road users,” he said.Bicycle Colorado worked with CDOT for a number of years to encourage and formulate the bicycle and pedestrian policy. In response, CDOT staff started evaluating its bicycle and pedestrian policies and practices in 2007. A series of stakeholder meetings were held, and the state agency gathered input from all its departments and divisions throughout the process.

The agency passed a critical juncture in September when CDOT’s Intermodal Committee agreed to change the draft policy language from “should” to “shall.” That single word transformed the policy from being a suggestion to a requirement.

In coming years, the directive will guide CDOT departments on how to incorporate bicyclist and pedestrian needs into road design, maintenance, transportation planning and education.

Discovery Museum nears completion  

The Durango Discovery Museum has taken another major step toward opening its doors. After a formal review process, the museum has selected a general contractor for the Phase II remodel at the Powerhouse.

Phase II will include remodeling the two buildings currently on the 1333 Camino Del Rio site and creating a river-facing public plaza around the existing smokestack. The work will accommodate a planned interactive science center, labs, workshops and offices. Colarelli Construction, of Colorado Springs, was selected from 10 proposals to serve as the contractor.

The museum’s construction committee cited Colarelli’s reputation, experience with similar projects, use of local subcontractors and labor, and substantial in-kind commitments as key reasons for the choice. Claire Bradshaw, executive director of the museum, commented on the selection, saying, “We were impressed with all the contractors who participated in the evaluation. Any one of them would have been a fine choice, but Colarelli distinguished itself with an understanding of our mission and a demonstration of capabilities that directly addressed our vision for the project.”

Dave Nulton, recently elected president of the museum’s board added, “We are confident that Vince Colarelli along with construction manager, Shawn Slater, and his team can help us transform the Powerhouse into a world-class destination of which the community can be very proud.”

With Phase II now under way, the Durango Discovery Museum plans to open its doors to the public late in 2010.

ARRA to create nearby trail system

Colorado’s first American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project is bringing a new network of singletrack to Southwest Colorado. The Bureau of Land Management recently awarded $95,000 in ARRA funds to create the Gunnison Gorge Trail System near Montrose.

Bicycle Colorado will be working with Singletrack Trails Inc. and is slated to begin planning a trail and travel management system this winter. They will survey the area and identify links to existing trails, new trails and areas suitable for restoration.

Once the trail plan is completed next spring, the Colorado Youth Corps Association will begin construction on the system.

“The plan is to create an integrated trail system that provides diverse single-track riding experiences for motorized and nonmotorized users,” Karen Tucker, Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area Manager, said.

The Gunnison Gorge NCA encompasses a diverse landscape ranging from adobe badlands to the spectacular double canyon of the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area. It supports an equally diverse range of uses ranging from whitewater boating and trout fishing to big-game hunting and off-highway vehicle use.

– Will Sands



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows