Vail rises to sinkhole’s challenge |

Vail rises to sinkhole’s challenge

Don Rogers

HUGE sinkhole swallows Vail! There’s your New York Times take. Closed for 30 days at least! – Rocky Mountain News Web site Wednesday, shortly before the highway opened a lane oh about 20 minutes after that bit of news. TV crew trucks, Paul Harvey, the big papers, the networks. My, a 22-foot pothole that’s strategically placed to ruin a lot of truckers’ days has reach.

What’s next, Gov. Owens doing a golly gee, the whole state is swarming with sinkholes?

No one got hurt when the sinkhole began to form on the freeway Sunday afternoon eight miles east of Vail Village as Bighorn Creek overflowed with the warm weather draining snowmelt and a well-timed thunderstorm. That’s the wonder and sweet news aspect of all this.

Well, there’s another bit of good news here, too. Vail and Eagle County emergency service people – police, fire, public works – showed their mettle with their quick response and hard work. Neighbors helped neighbors. Damage to residences was minimal as a result and, it bears repeating, no one got hurt!

Vail the town and the Vail the community really rose to the occasion, which is always good to see. Repairs to the interstate, Bighorn Road, Columbine Drive and Spruce Way will prove costly. Vail already is looking for state and federal help.

Bicyclists this week reveled in the opportunity for a quiet ride up to Vail Pass and back. Residents long accustomed to the interstate roar – rather like the ocean, only without the rhythm – fastened again on the sweet fantasy of I-70 running underground through all or part of Vail. The silence has been delicious. It was at least a glimpse at what might have been had another route for the ever-busier freeway been chosen.

Organizers and merchants had yet another cause for worry, with the Mountain Games on tap this weekend. This time it’s a damn sinkhole; who’d a thunk? In winter and early spring the run up to war and the invasion itself of Iraq. Last summer the fires. Before that Afghanistan. Before that fear of terrorism. Before that 9/11. And before that actual recession. It’s been quite a millennium for the High Country so far, hasn’t it?

But not to worry. The openings and closings of the interstate have settled into that one-lane opening, thanks to hard work by CDOT crews. So the delay no longer amounts to a scenic route between Copper Mountain and Minturn that takes in Leadville, which thank you very much enjoyed a little business boom for a change.

Thanks to your standard New York City pothole, seems the world has Vail firmly in mind now. Maybe that, too, will prove a good thing.

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