Avon closer to crossing railroad | VailDaily.com

Avon closer to crossing railroad

Nicole Frey
Shane Macomber/Daily file photoAvon is one step closer to getting two railroad crossings it wants to build to connect future developments along the Eagle River with the rest of town.

AVON Tourists and residents in Avon are one step closer to getting across the Eagle River to the shops, restuarants and lodging on the other side. Sure, those shops, restaurants and hotel rooms aren’t actually there yet, but the two railroad crossings that will provide more access to the so-called “Confluence” along the river are closer to being constructed than ever before. It’s also assumed that while people are heading into The Confluence, others will be heading out into downtown Avon via the two crossings – one for pedestrians and one crossing for cars – to spend money that will boost the town’s economy.

Just shy of the finish line, town officials are cheering a judge’s recommendation to approve the crossings that have been the subject of hot debate. “I though it was the right decision,” said Avon’s attorney Dudley Spiller, with Ryley Carlock & Applewhite. “It was well thought out, and we’re delighted with the outcome. We certainly feel that it’s a reasonable outcome, especially considering it’s an inactive train line.”Union Pacific Railroad, which has vehemently opposed the crossings over its railroad tracks, has until Dec. 12 to file an appeal. Union Pacific’s attorney Kathleen Snead declined to comment on why the railroad has asked for additional time to appeal.Avon has formally opposed the railroad’s request, saying the company hasn’t shown why an extension is necessary, Avon spokeswoman Jacquie Halburnt said. And while the extension would only be for 30 days, Spiller said, valuable building time is being wasted.

“We want to go ahead and have a final decision so we can begin constructing these crossings,” Spiller said. “Thirty days is 30 days.” In addition to stalling the construction of the crossings, Halburnt said a decision must be made by Jan. 16, and granting Union Pacific an extension would violate that deadline. Avon Mayor Ron Wolfe said while Avon must still have its final construction plans approved, the town only has a few administrative and engineering technicalities in its way. Wolfe said Union Pacific can only appeal the construction materials and design of the crossings, but the structures themselves are a done deal. “We’re very gratified that the judge saw the merit of these (crossings), and his ruling strongly reflects the community’s wishes,” he said. “That was really terrific – it shows you the public process does work.”The Public Utilities Commission is still debating the extension.

“But we definitely feel like we jumped a big hurdle by getting the recommended approval,” Halburnt said.Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or nfrey@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado

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