After 25 years of delays, multiple public processes over the years and substantial studying of feasibility, the trail connection between Eldorado Canyon State Park and Walker Ranch has been put on hold yet again while the government works on solving unrelated problems caused by automobiles.
This action will cause a delay of, optimistically, at least 18 months as the Visitor Use Management Study is predicted to run through the end of 2020 and adds uncertainty to a final outcome. This is, obviously, very disappointing. While we recognize that the Eldorado Springs residents face problems with automobile traffic congestion and that they need the government to help address these problems, this is a preexisting condition and one that mountain bikes have very little impact on, as pointed out in the recent three agency study. The whole reason mountain bikers want this trail is so we can ride our bikes from town into the mountains, so why would we drive?
The data from the three agencies supports our stance. If we assume EVERY mountain biker drove to the trailhead, there would be a 7% increase in traffic. That’s the equivalent of where the town is going to be in 3 months anyway if traffic continues to grow as predicted. But as we’ve said, why would we drive when we have bikes? Additionally, the agencies collected overwhelming support for this trail project, with 76% respondents in favor and the remaining negative votes almost entirely coming from Eldorado Springs residents.
The decision to delay comes because a small but vocal minority of citizens showed up in force at public forums to express their frustration with an automobile-based problem that has existed for years and has been getting worse. After sitting through literally hours of that outpouring of emotional pain, the two citizen boards (Boulder City OSBT and Boulder County POSAC) chose not to green light the new trail before considerable plans were made to address automobile congestion. We understand that the town has problems, but emotion and fear is leading to their issue with cars being conflated with our desire to ride our bikes and stay out of our cars. This is not how governance should work nor was that staff’s recommendation prior to the emotional hearings.
We see no reason that our governmental agencies can’t do more than one thing at a time. Please focus on the trail planning and construction over the next several years while CPW works on visitor use management. A loss of momentum on the Eldo-to-Walker trail could shut down this trail option, and even the ability to resolve the state park and town’s existing issues entirely. We’ve already delayed this decision almost 25 years, let’s not delay it more. It is both reasonable and important to send a positive signal that this trail is an important community amenity and all efforts should be made to make it a reality, in parallel with efforts to resolve the town’s and state park’s issues.
After having ALL other possible plains to mountains connectors shut down, the frustration is high in the mountain biking community. We ask that the County Commissioners and City Council take some substantive action to provide strong political leadership so staff from CPW, the city and the county can ensure this trail stays on track.
If forward progress is not possible, let’s put the south side alignment fully back on the table as it bypasses the state park’s congested area.
Do something for the 37,000 mountain bikers living in Boulder County while also doing something for the 585 residents of Eldorado Springs.
County Commissioner Meeting Public Meeting to be held Thursday, March 21 at 3:30 p.m.