Minturn cuts ribbon on new sewer line, pedestrian bridge project
Effort required collaboration between town of Minturn, Forest Service, water district and trails coalition
MINTURN — For more than 40 years, a sign on the County Road bridge over the Eagle River has warned boaters of an upcoming hazard.
“Caution! Low pipe — move. Duck, roll, or swim,” the sign reads.
The sign is now a relic of a bygone era, as the low pipe has been moved and is now part of a bridge which creates an important connection in the Dowd Junction-to-Minturn section of the Eagle Valley Trail, a hard surface path dedicated to bikers and pedestrians which seeks to span Eagle County.
The bridge and pipe project, now complete, was celebrated with a ribbon cutting Monday.
Longtime public servant Dick Cleveland said in his many years of serving on various boards in the community — Cleveland is a former Vail Town Council member who is now on the board of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and the ECO Trails committee — he has never attended a ribbon cutting for a sewer line before.
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“Maintaining and improving infrastructure, especially water and wastewater infrastructure, is always expensive and very often not seen,” Cleveland said.
Moving the sewer line was going to cost $1.6 million and come with a 6-foot bridge to accommodate the new pipe, and planners learned it could be extended to 12 feet and made into a new pedestrian crossing for an additional $100,000.
“ECO trails added an additional $41,000 to do the additional pavement and side rails,” Cleveland said.
The project took a lot of collaboration, Cleveland said.
“This particular project is adjacent to the rail line, it’s adjacent to Highway 6, it’s on the river, it’s in Forest Service land and town of Minturn land, and so the issue became — how do we cooperate with all these people and get the permits?” Cleveland said. “It’s an incredible amount of work, and it took a long time to get to it.”
In addition to causing problems for boaters, the old sewer pipe required a lot of monitoring from the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District. At more than 50 years old, the center pier was severely scoured and weakened, and the steel pipeline exhibited corrosion that put it at risk of failing, district officials said.
Jeffrey Schneider with the district was the chief engineer on the project, and said this was not your ordinary water and sanitation district project.
“Our operations team used to inspect this old pipeline every spring, every day, just to make sure it was still hanging around,” he said. “We’re happy to say that there’s no need for that anymore.”
The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District said the pipeline is part of a system that collects wastewater from the town of Minturn and sends it to the district’s wastewater treatment facility in Avon, where cleaned water is then returned to the Eagle River. All of Minturn’s wastewater flow is conveyed through this section of sewer main.
The old pipe could be a hazard to river users; in high water conditions the pipe would have a low clearance, hence the sign.
Cleveland referenced the sign and its creators, a group known as the “Minturn Yacht Club.”
Cleveland said the yacht club consisted of boaters Steve Boyd and Rick Winkeller. Boyd died in 2018.
Reached for comment on Monday, Winkeller said he was glad to hear the sign is still there.
“We put it up in the late 70s,” Winkeller said. “At that time there were probably half a dozen kayakers in Vail, if that.”
As for the old sewer line, Winkeller said “I gotta admit, I’m gonna miss it.”