Climbing lane construction begins in June
AVON — The dirt may be fun, but when you’re in a rush, there’s nothing like pavement.
It’s a truth bikers know well, and for Wildridge resident Scott Prince, the choice between dirt and pavement is one he’s often forced to make. Juggling work as a banker, public service as an elected official and family life as a husband and father, sometimes Prince needs to opt for the road to get back home quickly.
“I would always prefer to take (dirt trails) Saddleridge or Wyse Way when I can,” said Prince, “but if I’m short on time I’ll just take the road up, and when I do it’s not fun.”
Metcalf Road is steep, with sheer drop-offs on the sides and not much room for bikes and cars to share. It’s a convenient route to connect to the town’s 478-acre West Avon Preserve and the many miles of trails that lie within it, but as interest in that area, and the sport of mountain biking in general, continue to climb, Prince made it a priority to see a climbing lane for bikers constructed on Metcalf Road.
“It’s a combination of safety, and increase and use,” he said. “When I was out campaigning, a lot of people told me that was something they wanted to see. Previously councils had looked at it and it just never got done.”
With the plans already in place from previous councils, $1.26 million was made available this year and a contractor has been selected. Work will begin in June.
“The work is expected to last nine to 10 weeks,” said town engineer Justin Hildreth. “During the daytime hours it will be down to one lane, so we’re encouraging residents to take Buck Creek Road around if possible.”
Hildreth said the climbing lane was originally planned for 2012, but because of concerns with the recession, it was delayed.
“People in Wildridge really like the bike lanes through the neighborhoods that are there currently,” Hildreth said. “So this is the next step.”
The climbing lane will be 4 to 6 feet wide, and a full asphalt overlay of Metcalf Road is also included in the project. A downhill lane is not required because the bicyclists can ride the same speed as vehicle traffic down the steep hill.
PHASE II PLANNED FOR 2020
The construction taking place this summer will be Phase 1 of the project, up to Wildwood Road, with Ewing Construction out of Edwards doing the work. Bicyclists are expected to be able to use the climbing lane by mid to late August. Phase II, which see the rest of Metcalf Road climbing lane completed up to the Wildridge Fire Station, is scheduled for 2020. Prince said he plans on doing what he can to see Phase II happen earlier.
“That needs to be bumped up,” he said. “It kind of got outvoted by other capital spending, but it’s absolutely one of my priorities to get it done prior to 2020.”