Eagle back road stays open | VailDaily.com

Eagle back road stays open

Kathy Heicher
Eagle Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE, Colorado ” Considering the fact that it’s a dirt route to nowhere, the Bellyache Road has been getting a lot of attention lately.

Following a three-hour hearing Tuesday, the Eagle County commissioners steered away from temporarily closing the popular access to Bureau of Land Management property east of Eagle. However, the county officials made it clear they want solutions to the safety and erosion issues that have prompted some homeowners in the Bluffs subdivision to request closure of the road.

Bluffs residents have been voicing concern about safety issues for some time. On Memorial Day weekend, area residents were upset when the driver of an off-road vehicle drove over closed areas, damaging blockades, signs and vegetation.

The commissioners called for stepped up law enforcement for drivers who speed through the Bluffs subdivision on their way to Bellyache. They also set up a citizen committee that will report back in 30 days with specific suggestions on addressing erosion.

The committee will also suggest dates for closing the road during the winter and will consider whether parking can be added and if the bottom of the road can be realigned.

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The county road, which was once part of a route from Eagle to Wolcott, leads to hundreds of acres of Bureau of Land Management property. Starting on the edge of the Bluffs subdivision, the road runs 4.9 miles up to the top of Bellyache mountain, where it ends at a locked gate on private property.

The road has historically been used by hunters and campers, and is popular with riders of mountain bikes, ATVs, four-wheelers, and motorcycles. Bellyache also is sometimes the sight of teen drinking parties.

Terry Quinn of Eagle said he has used the road for hunting, dog walking and hiking for the past 30 years. He said one of the conditions of approving the Bluffs subdivision was that motor vehicles could use the road.

“A deal is a deal. The people who bought houses in the Bluffs have to live with it,” said Quinn.

But Dan Wolf, an attorney for the Bluffs homeowners, said that safety is the primary concern of the Bluffs residents.

“This isn’t the Bluffs versus the hunters … the safety concern of the residents trumps any deal of the past,” he said, “The current situation is an accident waiting to happen.”

Ray Long of Gypsum, a leader of the local chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, suggested that a new access to the road from Polar Star Road in the Upper Kaibab Subdivision might be the solution.

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