EagleVail road diet creates another piece of Vail Pass to Glenwood Canyon recreation path
Plan to connect all Eagle County communities through a single hard surface path will be one step closer to reality this fall
The road diet underway in front of the EagleVail business center is expected to be complete by the fall, with the county already scheduling a Sept. 13 ribbon cutting for the new trail it will provide.
The highway is in the process of being condensed from five lanes to three lanes near mile markers 172 and 173 to create a new hard surface recreation path for pedestrians and bikers.
Milling operations began in June from mile marker 170 in Dowd Junction through mile marker 174.5 at the Avon/Beaver Creek roundabout.
CDOT says milling work is expected to be complete next week, and paving will take place in the week that follows.
In addition to the new pedestrian lane, crews will also repave Highway 6, repave the I-70 eastbound on-ramp at exit 169 and the westbound off-ramp of exit 171, replace the guardrail in the area, create ADA-compliant ramp upgrades, conduct erosion control and build more wildlife fencing.
Rec path dreams
The long-imagined effort to create a continuous hard surface trail from Vail Pass to Glenwood Canyon will be down to its final few segments with the completion of the EagleVail road diet.
CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said the project will improve safety and efficiency for residents, businesses, and visitors traveling by all modes.
“These lasting impacts, re-evaluated to be more responsive to community needs, dedicate more space to multi-modal improvements and better support the vitality of EagleVail’s commercial main streets,” she said.
But farther to the east in Dowd Junction, where the highway drops to two lanes, a final segment preventing connectivity from Vail to Edwards will not be realized by going on a road diet.
Kevin Sharkey, the county’s trails program manager, said that last section will require more engineering and is on pace to be completed by the fall of 2022.
Sharkey will also cut the ribbon on an important connector in the effort to include Red Cliff and Minturn in the Eagle Valley Trail on Aug. 16. The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Eagle County and the town of Minturn recently collaborated to see the completion of a pedestrian bridge in Minturn which will help connect those towns to the Eagle Valley Trail.
The Down Junction to Minturn section of the trail is also a priority, but once the EagleVail section is completed, along with a section between the Horn Ranch Open Space and Edwards, and a section between Duck Pond Open Space and Dotsero and Glenwood Canyon, the trail will complete Eagle County’s section of the paved trail system that envisions connectivity from Breckenridge to Aspen, Sharkey said.
The Eagle Board of County Commissioners has pledged $9 million to complete the remaining sections, but Sharkey said an additional $18 million will likely be required on top of that.
Eagle County’s contribution will jumpstart a multi-year fundraising process led by the ECO Trails Committee, a partnership that includes county government as well as the towns of Gypsum, Eagle, Avon, Vail, Red Cliff and Minturn.
Sharkey said July 8 the Northwest Council of Governments board approved, in concept, the use of their foundation to collect and manage donations, and a fundraising campaign will be launched in the coming weeks.
And on Tuesday, Sharkey said, the Eagle Board of County Commissioners will consider a resolution for obtaining more funding dedicated toward the completion of the Eagle Valley Trail by 2025.
Part of the funding strategy includes the use of annually renewing certificate of participation bonds, a way governments can leverage assets to access cash without voter approval.
More details will be presented at the Tuesday Board of County Commissioners meeting, Sharkey said.