Officials still awaiting final approval for 18 Road improvements

The 18 Road area is extremely popular for mountain bikers and is also home to the Rumble at 18 Road race every April.

Federal land authorities will survey the 18 Road bike trail system for infrastructure improvements after the land north of Fruita was placed on the short list to receive grant money, a Mesa County official said recently.

Along with potential infrastructure improvements, the city of Fruita and the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA) submitted paperwork this past month requesting a federal research grant to plan for the creation of additional bike trails.

Pete Baier, Mesa County’s deputy administrator for operations, said members of the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) approved the county’s application for a federal grant to improve infrastructure and plan to tour the trail system sometime this fall. The tour will determine final approval of federal money, which will be used to make improvements helping accommodate the growing number of riders coming to the trails.

“They’re planning on a site tour, though they haven’t determined when that will be,” Baier said. “From there, we can move forward with the design aspect of the program.”

Mesa County worked in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management to submit the grant application this past summer. Both feel improved facilities are necessary because of the increased mountain bike traffic, which, according to BLM Outdoor and Recreation Planner Chris Pipkin, has risen from 33,000 annual visitors to more than 77,000 over the past decade.

The proposed improvements would help accommodate the growing number of riders and recreation enthusiasts. They include creating a staging area to potentially bring large events to the area, increasing the number of established on-site campgrounds, and improving and increasing rest room facilities. Pipkin also said the proposal calls for paving the trail-head parking area along with 18 Road leading up to the trail head.

Pipkin added the proposed staging area could host mountain biking and running events that could draw large crowds based on the increased popularity of the trails.

“It wouldn’t just be mountain bike events, but running events too,” he said.

Currently the popular Rumble at 18 Road bike and running event is held in the area.

Ture Nycum, the director of parks and recreation for the City of Fruita, said the grant money requested would cover the development of a master plan for expansion of the trail system. It not only includes plotting out potential new trails, but getting public input on where some of those new trails could go.

“We know people want more trails, but what we don’t know is what kind of trails people want,” Nycum said. “It would be great to get input on where to put the trails, if people want more blue, green or black trails. User input is something that’s going to be big during this whole process.”

Nycum said the latest the submitted paperwork will be reviewed for approval is January. Any infrastructure work done at 18 Road, Pipkin said, would begin no sooner than spring of 2017.


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