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Utah beats old skier record by 12 per cent

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Courthouse location fallout from 9/11

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — Airports in ski valleys of the West were almost immediately affected by the 9/11 attacks. For example, 35 federal agents were hired to ensure no utility knives got on board planes departing Eagle County Regional Airport, a major portal to Vail and Aspen. Meanwhile, other airports have expanded their terminals, to accommodate the increased security needs.

But the most bizarre ripple yet has now hit Steamboat Springs. There, the same considerations considered necessary to make federal buildings more secure from terrorists are being employed at new county court facilities.

County officials had been ordered by the district court to improve the aging courtroom facilities at the courthouse, which is located downtown. However, voters in 2002 rejected the proposal. Seeking a path of lesser resistance, the county officials relocated the project to cheaper land on the edge of town. City partisans objected, afraid that losing court facilities will erode the vitality of the old downtown shopping district. Already, Steamboat is struggling to cope with economic changes found in most towns, with shoppers fleeing to the resort-style suburbs or even megastores in other towns for purchasers.

The key decision maker ended up being the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which must grant permits for incursions into wetlands. It did so, and the story dug out by The Steamboat Pilot is a fascinating one. The existing location downtown had too little room for the sort of security requirements required of federal buildings. It is not a federal building, of course, but the Corps of Engineers decided it could not require the county government to do something that the federal agency itself could not do.

Four lanes to Breckenridge

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — The busy-ness of a ski town in the West can usually be predicted by A) the size and proximity of the closest airport; B) the proximity of a four-lane highway, and C) the proximity of a nearby metropolitan area.

Vail, of course, has all three, with Denver 100 miles away, a major airport 35 miles away, and an interstate highway slicing through the town. Aspen now has a four-lane highway and a significant airport on the edge of town.

Breckenridge has relative proximity to both Denver and to major airports, and it may soon be getting a four-lane highway. A proposal to go to Colorado voters in November to authorize expansion of the state budget would see $20 million going to the four-laning of the highway from Frisco, a distance of nine miles. More funding would be necessary to complete the link, however.

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