Answerland: When will there be a bike lane between Edwards and Eagle?
Ryan Summerlin February 20, 2012
When will there be a bike lane built between Edwards and Eagle? It is a very popular stretch – bike riders are on the narrow shoulder every day. Even as a biker myself and aware driver, I’ve nearly missed seeing cyclists on this stretch and would never consider riding it myself out of fear for life and limb. The Eagle River trail from Edwards up Vail Pass is great, scenic and safe for cyclists. Just curious when it will be extended downvalley. To reference our neighbors to the east, Summit County’s bike paths kick butt and link every community.
Answer provided by Ellie Caryl, the county’s ECO Trails program manager, via email:
Six miles of U.S. Highway 6 between Wolcott and Eagle are scheduled for a pavement overlay this spring, and widening the shoulders 2 feet on each side is included in the work. That project is scheduled to start in May and will take about two months to complete. The shoulder widening and pavement improvements will help make that section of road safer for both bicyclists and vehicles. In 2009, five miles of Highway 6 were widened from Wolcott east to Squaw Creek Road in Edwards, and in 2008, two miles of the highway east of Eagle were overlaid and widened. The Highway 6 improvement project is a joint effort between the Colorado Department of Transportation and Eagle County.
The planned regional trail system will be 63 miles long and will travel from Glenwood Canyon to Vail Pass with a connection to Red Cliff. Thirty-three miles are complete; 30 miles remain to be built. Four miles are to be constructed this year. The cost to complete the remaining sections is $20 million, and $500,000 is collected annually for the trails fund.
The regional trail is separated from roadways, sometimes close to the road, sometimes out of sight from roads. The regional trail completion is a partnership effort of Eagle County, Gypsum, Eagle, Avon, Vail, Red Cliff and Minturn. Progress continues steadily, as funding from a 10 percent share of a local transportation sales tax allows. In 2012, trail segments between Avon and Eagle-Vail and Gypsum to Dotsero will be completed. The 14-mile trail segment between Edwards and Eagle is costly because of length and tough terrain but is in the planning and design stages now. The cost of that connection is estimated at $9 million.
Funds are not currently available to construct the section, but local governments hope to raise funds from various sources over the next few years, similar to Summit County’s efforts to fund a recently completed five-mile section of the Swan Mountain Trail for $5 million. The regional trail system’s intent is to enhance our transportation and recreation facilities, healthy lifestyles and our economy.