‘Cracks in the road’
EAGLE COUNTY – Highway 6 from Edwards to Gypsum is considered a treacherous stretch for area road cyclists, and some county officials think there’s room for improvement.The idea of adding a six-foot shoulder on either side of the road was brought up at a recent meeting of the Eagle County Commissioners. Horror stories of run-ins between motorists and cyclists along that popular stretch prompted Commissioner Arn Menconi to raise the topic.”There is growing concern for the safety of cyclists,” Menconi said. “People are getting run off the road. They are getting nipped by trucks that come within a foot of them.”Sections leave little room for error by cyclists or cars, said Charlie Brown, the owner of Mountain Pedaler in Eagle.”The classic example is there is a dump truck coming one way, and a car coming from behind you,” Brown said. “You look down, and there is no real place to move.”It’s not the truck’s fault, he added. Still, riders would love a little extra room to maneuver out there, said Brown.
Is this a priority? Vail Velo.com, a Web site promoting cycling in Eagle County, has taken up the cause.”That stretch is getting so much recreational activity,” said Andy Cohen of Vail Velo. “Something needs to be done to make it safe.”A petition being circulated by Vail Velo.com at local bike shops and on its Web site, http://www.vailvelo.com., aims to persuade Eagle County and the Colorado Department of Transportation to make more room for cyclists. Widening would begin upvalley at Squaw Creek Road – at the west end of Edwards – and end 14 miles west at the Eagle roundabout at a cost of about $100,000 per mile, county engineer Helen Migchelbrink said.”There are some tight spots where you are right on the edge of the river,” Migchelbrink said. “For the most part, though, it is real doable.”
There is $3 million in excess funds beyond the 25 percent reserves in the county’s Road and Bridge fund. “I don’t believe it is responsible to sit on (the extra money),” Menconi said. But asking the Colorado Department of Transportation to help pay for road widening might interfere with other road projects, such as improvements to the Edwards Spur Road, Commissioner Tom Stone said. Missing roadIf funds for widening Highway 6 aren’t available, some clean-up and maintenance would help make things safer for now, said Nat Ross. Ross a professional mountain biker who uses Highway 6 to train year-round. Cars and trucks aren’t the only danger, he added
“There are long cracks in the road, and places where parts of the road are missing to the extent where there is no white line,” said Ross, who has been hit twice by cars this year, although not on Highway 6. “Motorists don’t understand or even see that.”There also is debris like nails, glass, gravel and trash on the highway, Ross said. “They need to do some maintenance and some sweeping at the very least,” he said. “But 6-foot-wide shoulder would be nice, too.”Enterprise editor Kathy Heicher contributed to this article, which first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise. Vail, Colorado