Avon moves forward with new emergency response route into Wildridge | VailDaily.com

Avon moves forward with new emergency response route into Wildridge

Proposed expansion would allow specialized wildland vehicles to access the neighborhood in the event of an emergency

The town of Avon plans to expand the June Creek Trail to make it accessible to specialized emergency vehicles.
Town of Avon/Courtesy photo

The town of Avon is moving forward on the June Creek Trail Project, which will expand the existing June Creek Trail to make it accessible to first responders in the event of significant emergencies such as wildfires.

The Wildridge neighborhood currently uses a single access road in and out — a situation that has been identified as high-risk if the road becomes compromised during a wildfire or comparable emergency situation. 

“Wildfires may be our valley’s single most significant threat,” wrote Avon Town Planner Matt Pielsticker in a Jan. 19 report on the project. “While we cannot un-approve subdivisions that have only a single means of egress and ingress (primarily due to topographic challenges), we can be proactive in implementing alternative evacuation routes.”

As of now, the 5-foot-wide June Creek Trail is inaccessible by motor vehicles and is primarily used for hiking and biking. The proposed project will expand the trail to 8-10 feet and add a retaining wall to accommodate specialized wildland vehicles used for firefighting purposes. 

Pielsticker emphasized that the trail modifications will not accommodate domestic fire trucks or resident-driven vehicles. Contrary to local residents’ concerns, the new trail will not increase motor traffic as it will be closed off on both sides by gates with combination locks. Codes will only be shared with emergency dispatchers and members of the Berry Creek Metropolitan District management team.

Support Local Journalism

The hiking-trail character of the route will also be maintained, with an effort to cause minimal disruption to the surrounding area.

“Avon intends to preserve the rustic feel of the existing trail to the greatest extent possible, including reclamation of the path using the same surface materials used currently and by revegetating any disturbed areas using the same native vegetation enjoyed by users and wildlife,” Pielsticker wrote in the report.

The town of Avon will be paying for the trail improvements, though final designs and a price estimate have not been determined. Town planners have been meeting with the Berry Creek Metropolitan District and Singletree Property Owners Association to identify concerns and ensure a collaborative process and received authorization from the metro district on Tuesday to proceed with a Location and Extent land use process at the county level.

If the public process is approved, all that remains is to complete an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act, an Easement and Use Agreement with the metro district and finalization of construction plans.

The council is approaching the project with a sense of urgency, given the chance for a worst-case scenario if an alternative emergency route is not established.

“The end zone is getting it built and then never using it,” Pielsticker said. “That would be our win.”

Support Local Journalism