Eagle-Vail: Will Highway 6 remain ‘a pain?’ | VailDaily.com
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Eagle-Vail: Will Highway 6 remain ‘a pain?’

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” Clayton Emmerich has to drive 10 minutes out of the way to get to his apartment at River Run in Eagle-Vail since U.S. Highway 6 has been closed.

He works two jobs, installing stereo equipment in homes during the day and at a bowling alley downvalley at night.

So when he drives home on the interstate from work at the bowling alley, he has to exit in Avon around 1 a.m. instead of exiting at Dowd Junction, which is faster, he said.

“Coming through at 1 a.m. is kind of a pain,” Emmerich said.

About a one-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 6 between Kayak Crossing apartments and the Interstate 70 interchange at Dowd Junction will be closed until early next week, said Martha Miller, resident engineer for the Colorado Department of Transportation. However, construction on the hill and the damaged retaining wall is scheduled to finish Aug. 29, Miller said.

About a 20-foot-wide section of mud, trees and rocks spilled onto one lane of U.S. Highway 6 about noon April 13 and broke part of a metal wall where crews had been draining water from the saturated soil the week before.

Business has been down since the mudslide, said Lynne Schleper, who owns Treasures Quality Consignments, a furniture store in Eagle-Vail near the closure.

People coming from downvalley have to exit in Avon drive through several roundabouts to get to her store now, she said.

“Basically, people have to come down a one-way, dead-end street to get here,” Schleper said.

If customers are coming from Vail, they have to get off at the Eagle-Vail exit and then drive back east a mile to her store. By then, they’re frustrated, she said.

A sign at the Eagle-Vail interchange that says Highway 6 is “closed” also is inaccurate, she said. Only a one-mile stretch east of her business is closed, but people unfamiliar with the highway may not know the difference, she said.

People redecorate their homes this time of year, and Schleper relies on their business, she said.

“I’m just amazed that they’re going to take so long to fix this thing,” she said.

Miller said workers will replace a 100-foot section of the retaining wall with a rock wall and will drill steel rods into the hillside to prevent future mudslides.

Funding will come from the state, but she declined to say how much it’s expected to cost because contractors are supposed to submit bids Tuesday morning.

Crews must keep at least one lane of the highway open during the work, which will take place daily from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., she said.

“They may be able to figure out a way to have both lanes open during the day,” Miller said. “That’s the contractors responsibility to figure out.”

Both lanes will be open at night so that people can use the highway when work on the interstate between Dowd Junction and East Vail begins May 18.

Napa Auto Parts’ business is doing fine, store manager Rick Nihiser said. Customers will drive the extra distance for their car parts. But Napa employees also drive a bit more to deliver products, Nihiser said.

“It’s more of an inconvenience for us,” he said.

Ollie Holdstock, owner of Route 6 Cafe, said fewer cars and trucks are driving down the highway now, which should make his patio a nicer place this spring. The closure isn’t a “big deal” ” his business is doing fine considering offseason, he said.

“It makes it a nice country road,” Holdstock said.

Emmerich said extra traffic may clog the highway when only one lane is open this summer.

“They’ve got to do something about it,” he said.

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


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