Basalt restricts vehicles on road |

Basalt restricts vehicles on road

Seven or so years after stirring a hornets’ nest by suggesting that the downvalley section of Two Rivers Road be closed to traffic, Basalt leaders are cautiously launching plans to restrict and slow vehicles on the road.The Town Council voted 6-0 Tuesday night to approve a weight restriction of 10,000 pounds on the road west of Town Hall. Roaring Fork Transit Authority and school buses are exempt.Assistant Town Manager Betsy Suerth said the restriction is needed to prevent damage and decrease maintenance costs. The town took over the road, also known as old Highway 82, last year from the Colorado Department of Transportation. Along with ownership came responsibility to pay for upkeep.Suerth said prohibiting heavy trucks will help extend the life span of the road. The 10,000-pound limit “will exclude just about any truck you can think of,” Suerth told the Town Council. She cited dump trucks, semis and beer delivery trucks as examples.It will also exclude pickups and SUVs towing large boats to Ruedi Reservoir – something the town doesn’t really want to do because of the potential to adversely affect tourism.Suerth said she anticipated Basalt Police Chief Keith Ikeda and his force will use their discretion to allow vehicles towing boats to use the road. “I don’t think he’s going to go after that type of violation,” Suerth said.Basalt hopes to rely more heavily on education than on enforcement. Cops will give warnings in most cases on first violations and the town will place signs with the universal “no truck” symbol at strategic points along the restricted road, Suerth said. Violators could be fined up to $1,000.The 5-ton limit was selected because it is relatively easy to enforce, according to Suerth. Emblems imprinted on truck doors indicate whether they are more or less than 10,000 pounds, she said.While maintenance was cited as the excuse for the restriction, town officials also acknowledged they want to slow traffic on the road and make it more pedestrian and cyclist friendly.Town officials hope to someday build a trail along the road. Plans are also being prepared to use speed bumps and other “traffic calming” devices.Councilman Glenn Rappaport said he also wants the town to reduce the speed limit “but not lower it to the point where people are constantly breaking the law.” He suggested lowering the limit to 40 or 45 mph, and doing it soon rather than waiting for a trail to be built.”That’s my vote – lower, sooner,” he said.Councilwoman Anne Freedman also noted that a uniform speed is needed on the road. It varies now from 25 to 50 mph.The board isn’t going to make an immediate adjustment, but the sentiment seemed in favor of lowering the limit. Suerth also noted that speed bumps will be added to the road, probably next year.Public sentiment swayed the town away from making major changes to the road previously. Former Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt once suggested closing the road and converting it into a trail. She was inundated with complaints and the idea was dropped before it progressed far.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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