Over a dozen guests attended the board meeting of Grand Mesa Nordic Council last Tuesday night, anxious to hear what can be done to ensure the safety of winter recreationists following the tragic death of a Grand Junction couple Jan. 5.
Glen Eyre, 65, and his wife Linda, 63, were struck in the parking pull-out at the County Line ski area on Grand Mesa. The pull-out is located adjacent to Highway 65, where the speed limit is posted at 55 mph.
A 21-year-old driver from Cedaredge swerved to miss an oncoming vehicle, lost traction and struck the Eyres. They died at the scene.
Members of the Grand Mesa Nordic Council, a not-for-profit organization that grooms trails on Grand Mesa, have long advocated for improvements to the parking arrangement at County Line. The U.S. Forest Service is working with a number of partners, including the nordic council, to make those improvements and hopes to break ground on the project this summer. Plans call for the parking area to be enlarged and moved closer to the trailhead on the east side of the highway.
"There's no hope of changing the parking lot at this point, even though that's been planned," said board member Tom Ela. "Mainly for this season we need to get some signage up there — some warning signs or reduced speed limit signs. Those are things we've asked for previously and will ask for again with more force."
Ela said a meeting has been scheduled with the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Department of Transportation to reiterate the concerns of the non-profit's board and members. They also advocate improved plowing.
"We're not in a position to do too much, other than continue to put pressure on the powers that be to rectify the situation," he said.
Board members encourage everyone who shares their concerns to write CDOT and their state representatives. Contact information and a sample letter can be found on the organization's website, gmnc.org. They also posted the following list of actions to improve safety at all the winter-use trailheads on Highway 65:
• Be the change you want to see — drive at the speed limit you wish to see enforced near all recreation trailheads on the Grand Mesa.
• Morning users: Back into the County Line and Ward Lake parking areas. Use extreme caution when entering and exiting all trailhead parking areas.
• If parking is at capacity, explore a different trailhead. If you don't have a dog, try Skyway. If you do have a dog, try parking at Thunder Mountain Lodge, Ward Campground, Ward Lake, or Mesa Top. All trails at Ward and County Line are dog-friendly.
Carpooling is encouraged to reduce the congestion at trailheads; a carpool message board can be found on the Grand Mesa Nordic Council website.
"Everybody can help by driving slower, being safer and parking wiser," Ela said.blog comments powered by Disqus