Basalt road with history turns deadly
Norbert Anthes died next to a dirt road he worked to take care of.Stagecoaches once used Cedar Drive above Basalt to reach Leadville. The road now winds through a protected state wildlife area, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife has shot down residents’ efforts to improve and widen it in recent years.Anthes, 64, died instantly when he was thrown from his truck, which rolled several times after leaving Cedar Drive. A passing motorist found him Saturday morning.Anthes, who a neighbor said had lived in the area “forever,” was not wearing a seat belt; alcohol is also considered a factor. Further information from the Colorado State Patrol was not available Monday.Anthes helped grade and maintain Cedar Drive, as do other residents, said neighbor Janet Lightfoot.
“All the guys who live up there are the ones who maintain it,” she said. The road provides access into the Fryingpan Valley through acreage that is home to bighorn sheep, elk and deer.”That road has a little history,” said Brad Higgins, director of Eagle County’s road and bridge department. “It’s a public way; part of it’s Eagle County, part of it belongs to the division of wildlife.”Proposals to improve the road have surfaced several times. “But there are other issues on that road,” he said.The wildlife division’s position is that any improvement to the road would jeopardize the status of the state wildlife area, Higgins said. A message left at the division’s Glenwood Springs office was not returned Monday.Lightfoot, who has lived on Cedar Drive for three years, doesn’t understand the DOW’s position.
“We’ve been trying to get the road improved, trying to get Eagle County or the state to do some maintenance or let us widen the road in certain places,” she said. “And they pretend like we’re invisible.”Cedar Drive is about 11 feet wide; residents would like to see it 5 feet wider in some places, Lightfoot said. Homeowners also would like to install some culverts to protect against water erosion.Lightfoot said she pays more than $50,000 annually in property taxes and would like to see some action by the government to protect the road.”We’re not getting any attention,” she said.In rejecting the improvement proposals, the division also was concerned that road upgrades would draw more vehicles, Higgins said.
But Lightfoot said Cedar Drive already sees plenty of traffic. The one-mile dirt road serves 17 homesites. And there are 12 more building sites awaiting homes above Lightfoot’s house, she said.”We’ve got huge 18-wheelers, we’ve got huge cement trucks coming up there,” she said. “We’ve got amazing amounts of traffic coming up that road.”The road also sees a great deal of recreational use, she said, comparing it to Smuggler Mountain in Aspen.Mountain bikers, joggers and parents with strollers “are there every day,” she said. “It’s a well-traveled road.”Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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