Cyclists must wait for space in Vail Valley
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado Eagle County planned to finish adding shoulders to Highway 6 between Eagle and Edwards in the Vail Valley this summer, but a tightening budget has forced the county to finish the project in sections. The county already completed a small section of the 12-mile stretch east of Eagle and is deciding what section to work on next Eagle to Wolcott or Wolcott to Edwards. We were hoping to do it all at once, but it doesnt look like thats feasible now, said Eagle County engineer Taylor Ryan. The funding will have to be split into two parts. The project will add 2-foot shoulders to Highway 6 a plan designed to make it safer for cyclists to ride along the highway. The county considered adding 6-foot shoulders to the road, but abandoned the idea because the cost estimate was $16 million. The two-foot addition was estimated to cost less than half that, officials said. The shoulder project could also be eligible for some of the $850 billion president-elect Barack Obama plans to spend on infrastructure projects to create jobs and stimulate the economy, officials said. The county originally planned to work on the shoulders from west to east, finishing in Edwards, but is considering doing the Edwards stretch first if there was enough interest. Both sections have some pretty bad spots that could use the work, Ryan said. Were trying to get a feel for what people would like to see done next.Edwards cyclist Robert Barker said it makes more sense to finish the Edwards-to-Wolcott stretch first.We thought it would be substantially more well used and appreciated, Barker said. The stretch of Highway 6 that leaves Edwards is busier, particularly with trucks leaving the Edwards B&B property, Barker said. Theres a lot of traffic on that stretch, he said. Bruce Kelly, owner of Pedal Power in Eagle-Vail, said the section from Edwards to Wolcott is probably busier, but was in favor of getting the bigger stretch of road done first. Its interesting to me that form Wolcott to Eagle is almost 10 miles and Edwards to Wolcott is about three we might as well get 10 miles done, Kelly said. Paul Previtali, who works at the Kind Cyclist in Edwards, said he could recommend riding Highway 6 out of Edwards to tourists if it had a good shoulder. Cyclists that ride from Edwards toward Avon and Vail and then back sometimes want to ride a little farther, and a good shoulder from Edwards to Wolcott would be perfect for that, Previtali said. Widening the shoulders more than two feet would be even better, Barker said. We know they cant do six-foot shoulders, Barker said. Two feet would definitely be appreciated, but its not a real safe amount of space, especially if you get one cyclist passing another. Four feet would be really beneficial.Because recreation is such an important part of the area, the county should do anything possible to enhance the recreational options, Kelly said. I always go back to the fact that when you look at Eagle, Summit and Lake counties, this is probably as strong an area for recreation as there is in the country, Kelly said. I would just think wed want to do everything we possibly can to be setting the standard instead of following it. And widening shoulders isnt just about cyclists, Kelly said.Shoulders are a place for people to pull over, he said.
A plan to add shoulders to Highway 6 between Eagle and Edwards doesnt have enough funding to be completed this summer. The county plans to finish one section of the project either Eagle to Wolcott or Wolcott to Edwards, and wants to hear from the community about which section makes more sense to complete first. Contact Eagle County engineer Taylor Ryan at 328-3560 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell the county what you think they should work on first. Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or email@example.com.