Eagle-Vail business owners eager for road to open | VailDaily.com

Eagle-Vail business owners eager for road to open

Steve Lynn
Vail CO, Colorado

EAGLE-VAIL ” Lynne Schleper wants to pitch in with a neighboring business owner to buy a 20-foot-tall “dancing man” to let people know her business on U.S. Highway 6 is open.

The yellow, air-filled prop that she wants to put atop a camper between her business and Interstate 70 could help.

“We’re going to have to work as teams here to remind people we’re open,” she said.

Business has been slow for Schleper this spring. Some blame on the economy and an April 13 mudslide that forced the closure of part of U.S. Highway 6. Though it may open soon, the stretch of highway between the interchange at Dowd Junction and Kayak Crossing apartments has been closed more than a month.

That has forced people headed west on the interstate to drive an extra mile or so to reach some Eagle-Vail businesses on Highway 6. Traveling east, people must exit the interstate at Wal-Mart in Avon.

The road will be closed until “at least” Tuesday, when it could be open between 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. “if it is safe to do so,” said Nancy Shanks, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation, in a statement.

Highway 6 may open for daytime travel in mid-June, depending on how the project progresses and weather conditions, Shanks said.

Work on the 100-foot section of retaining wall that the mudslide damaged began the week of April 22. The repair work, which is expected to cost almost $3 million, requires crews to put 300 anchors 100 feet deep into the slope along the 500-foot-long wall. They also are monitoring for any movement that may occur.

The work is scheduled to be finished mid-August.

“I’d rather them take their time and fix it right,” said Hank Esperon, owner of Aardvac in Eagle-Vail.

Esperon’s vacuum store has had its worst season in 10 years. The weak economy could be the culprit ” no one should worry about driving an extra mile to get to his store, he said.

“Nobody’s come in and said specifically ‘It’s a pain to get here because Highway 6 is closed,'” Esperon said.

Pier 13 Liquor in Eagle-Vail has lost more customers to Costco than to the road closure, said Brian Davis, the store’s manager. People still drive from Minturn to get to Pier 13, he said.

Fewer people driving on the highway means fewer customers, other owners and employees said.

Dan Shelton, owner of Good Night Mattress Co., said there are so few cars, he barely has to look east when he pulls out of the parking lot to drive home to Eagle.

But Shelton blames mostly the economy. Real estate transactions in the Vail Valley are down, so people are buying fewer beds, he said.

“At least it’s during my slowest time of year,” Shelton said.

Dan Glickman, owner of Get Hi Gallery, said the closure hasn’t hurt sales. People come there specifically for his products, such as glass smoking pipes, which they can’t get most other places, he said.

“We live in the mountains,” Glickman said. “They build roads on cliffs ” stuff like this is going to happen, especially with the winter we just had.”

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at (970) 748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.

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