Garco bicyclists to find smooth sailing
GLENWOOD SPRINGS Cyclists might find smoother sailing on some Garfield County roads later this summer.The Garfield County commissioners, meeting Monday in Glenwood Springs, said they will consider spending extra taxpayer dollars on some road projects this summer to accommodate cyclists.About 18 bikers attended the commissioners’ meeting to plea for smaller gravel in road resurfacing projects. The county typically uses 3/4-inch gravel that gets embedded in a tar-like sealer.The result is a surface that is unsafe, uncomfortable and causes fatigue, said Carbondale resident Jim Gaw.Cycling is a big part of the Colorado culture and something that Garfield County should do more to accommodate, said Nancy Reinisch. “Roads should be available to all users not just cars,” she said.Bernadette Julich, mother of nine-time Tour de France rider Bobby Julich, said the county road system is important to developing young riders.”Think of the kids that need the county roads like Bobby did so many years ago,” she said.Jim Githens said Eagle and Pitkin counties use smaller gravel than Garfield County in their road projects. He said there is no evidence that the smoother surface creates poorer or more dangerous driving conditions. Githens and several other speakers said the larger gravel doesn’t bind well and presents a safety hazard to motorists as well as cyclists.”I doubt you’ve gotten any complaints about smooth roads,” said Githens.Garfield County budgeted $1.1 million this summer for routine maintenance of some of its road network. The roads in roughest shape will receive a new chip seal surface, with the 3/4-inch gravel.At Commissioner Tresi Houpt’s suggestion, the county got a second bid on topping the 3/4-inch gravel with a 3/8-inch mixture. The bid came in at $652,000 for all the projects.Houpt supported spending that amount and topping all roads scheduled for work this summer with the smoother surface. That will set a new standard in the county, she said.Commissioner Larry McCown opposed spending so much to accommodate so few county residents. He said he couldn’t justify the expense when less than 10 percent of county residents would benefit.McCown advised cyclists to buy different tires that are better suited to rough roads if the ride isn’t smooth enough for them. The county’s responsibility is to build roads to accommodate the motoring public, he said.The swing vote, Commissioner John Martin, supported a compromise. He said he couldn’t justify spending $652,000 to make all the roads smoother when some of those routes are rarely, if ever, visited by cyclsits.But Martin agreed with Houpt that some routes should be smoother. He supported spending extra funds on the highest-priority routes for cyclists.Paula Stepp, an organizer of the cyclists, presented an informal survey that showed which of the county roads on this summer’s maintenance schedule that they use most and they would like to see with a smoother surface.The top priorities were: County Road 102 from Catherine Store Road to Fender Lane in Missouri Heights; Crystal Springs Road and Cattle Creek Road, which both climb Missouri Heights from Highway 82; Grass Mesa Road near Silt; Canyon Creek Road; and Bufford Road.The commissioners directed their staff to explore how much it would cost to add the smoother surface to those routes and report back as soon as possible.McCown supported the motion despite his outspoken opposition to accommodating bikes on county roads.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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