Trucks raise concerns on River Road |

Trucks raise concerns on River Road

Kathy HeicherEagle CorrespondentVail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyA Colorado River Road resident, Michael Farrell, snapped this picture of a gravel pit truck driving on the wrong side of the road around a curve something he says happens all too often.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado Colorado River Road resident Michael Farrell has been concerned for some time that the gravel trucks rumbling past his home sometimes present a safety problem.Last week, he used his camera to verify his concerns. While out working in the yard of his home, located about 1.2 miles up the road from Dotsero, he snapped the photo of a gravel truck driving on the wrong side of the road, as it cuts a curve near his home.It is a frequent problem up here. Ninety percent of the trucks that come down the road are two to three feet over the center line, cutting that curve, says Farrell. The whole reason they are going over the line is that they are going too fast.There are families with children living in homes along the road. The Colorado River Road is also popular with bicyclists, he says.Jason Burkey, spokesman for B&B Excavating, the company that operates the Hidden Valley Pit, just above the confluence of Deep Creek and the Colorado River, says the company is aware of the issues, and of the photograph. He notes that gravel trucks made an average of about 30 trips per day down the River Road this year. A high percentage of all of the drivers are driving safe, and following the rules, Burkey notes. He says the gravel company continually monitors the drivers and road. This year, three drivers were taken off of that particular haul route for either driving too fast, or failing to cover loads.We have a system in place. The process does work, says Burkey.Farrell credits the regular B&B drivers with obeying the rules, and says the gravel company has been responsive to the issues.Farrell says that the issue was brought up by citizens a couple of years ago, when B&B went to the county for a special-use permit. The county granted a 40-year permit on the gravel pit operation, through the year 2045.Joe Forinash, a planner with the Eagle County Community Development Department, said that permit required B&B to establish safety policies.B&B was also required to widen the road, pave it, and re-stripe it. Burkey says those improvements benefit all drivers.An unusual provision of the permit is a requirement that B&B meet upon request with local residents to discuss concerns. Theres a three-person Committee of Interest representing the gravel company, the neighbors, and the county that meets annually to address concerns.Debbie Vernell, long-time Colorado River Road resident, represents the Colorado River Road neighbors on the board this year. She says she talked to B&B last summer about trucks going too fast, uncovered loads, drivers creeping over the center line and noisy brakes.All of those things still happen … what I find with the ongoing concerns is that when we bring them to their attention, they get temporarily resolved, not necessarily permanently, she said.The Hidden Valley Pit will be around for a while. Burkey said the pit has one of the largest gravel reserves in the county. The special-use permit is subject to review by the county commissioners every 10 years (next review is in 2015), and by the countys Community Development Department every five years (next review in 2010).We dont want to hurt our relationships with either the homeowners or the general public. Part of our special-use agreement is to make sure we fit in the neighborhood, said Burkey.

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