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In Colebrook, Mixed Reactions to DOT Fixing a Road for the Shuttered Balsams

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The plan to spend about $2.8 million to fix 1.8 miles of Golf Links Road, which connects the now-closed hotel with the golf course, got mixed reactions at a public meeting Monday in Colebrook.

Supporters said it is important to help the Balsams because if it reopens it would be a huge boost to the economy of the North Country.

Opponents said there are many roads in the North Country that need to be fixed. Those include roads that are in terrible shape and ambulances – sometimes carrying desperately ill or injured patients - have to go very slowly.

Neither side dominated.

DOT associate commissioner Bill Cass said if developer Les Otten can’t come up the necessary funding the work on Golf Links Road probably won’t happen.

“There wouldn’t be the need to invest in this road if there wasn’t an economic development going forward," he told the audience of about five dozen.

The DOT plan calls for doing some preparatory work on the road this summer. The serious work, including paving, would take place next summer.

This 84-inch wide culvert, installed in 1978 to allow snowmobiles to avoid crossing Route 26, is slated to be replaced by DOT with a 20-foot wide underpass expected to cost about $850,000 in federal funds.

The DOT also plans to spend about $850,000 in federal funds to build a 20-foot wide tunnel beneath Route 26, which passes the Balsams. It was built in 1978 for ATVs and snowmobiles.

The new tunnel will make the crossing safer for ATVs,  snowmobiles and groomers which currently drive across the highway. It can also be used by service vehicles belonging to the Balsams traveling between the hotel area and the ski slopes on the far side of the highway.  Otten's plan includes building a service road to connect with the tunnel.

A DOT official also said there is a possibility that the state might pave Cold Springs Road, which goes into the resort from Route 26. But a DOT official did not have an estimate of the cost and no decision has been made.

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