Grooming Rim Drive for race

Scenic road gets makeover ahead of Pro Cycling Challenge

Rim Drive, with its scenic overviews of downtown Durango, was chosen as part of Durango’s Stage 1 course for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. The road, however, needed a little maintenance. The city of Durango and Fort Lewis College are providing chip-and-seal so racers don’t have to dodge old potholes. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Rim Drive, with its scenic overviews of downtown Durango, was chosen as part of Durango’s Stage 1 course for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. The road, however, needed a little maintenance. The city of Durango and Fort Lewis College are providing chip-and-seal so racers don’t have to dodge old potholes.

Four-year-old Oliver Compton enjoyed the bumpy ride on Rim Drive whenever his father, Spencer Compton, pulled him by bicycle trailer to day care at Fort Lewis College.

“We would hit all the potholes and deformations,” Spencer Compton said. “He loved it.”

What’s fun for toddlers won’t do for world-class cyclists. Rim Drive is getting a surface makeover this summer in time for the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Durango is the start of a seven-stage race through the Rocky Mountains to Denver with the first 10 miles of the course to be raced inside Durango city limits Aug. 20.

Rim Drive, a campus road along the edge of a mesa, was chosen for the race course to showcase FLC and for its “remarkable” views of Durango’s historic downtown, said Larry Goldstein, co-chairman for technical committee, USA Pro Cycling Challenge/Durango.

“I was sure to include Rim Drive when designing this course specifically because of the television camera views from the race helicopter and race motorcycles,” Goldstein said.

“The images from these TV cameras in the air and on the ground will be displayed not just nationwide, but to 200 countries worldwide on NBC Sports,” he said.

A road about to get grand exposure has always been the scenic road that locals like to show off.

“It’s a great view of town,” said Compton, director of the Durango Wheel Club, a cycling group. “We use it on a number of different group rides. I always like to take out-of-towners up there. I encourage them to ride up there so they get that perspective.”

Like getting carpets steam-cleaned before the arrival of the in-laws, both the city of Durango and FLC had to prioritize their work schedule to get Rim Drive ready for the spotlight.

Durango is expected to complete resurfacing today. FLC’s work wrapped up over the weekend.

“While the college makes repairs to its various roads annually, we decided to modify our schedule slightly and perform work on Rim Drive this summer, so that it would be in great shape for the race this August,” said Steven Schwartz, vice president for finance and administration at FLC.

FLC is responsible for the 1.2-mile stretch of Rim Drive from 8th Avenue to Fort Lewis Drive in the north. The city of Durango maintains just under a mile of Rim Drive from Fort Lewis Drive to North College Drive.

Levi Lloyd, director of the city’s street department, said the road has needed repairs for at least five years.

Normally, big repaving projects are done in phases for affordability, Lloyd said.

To repave all of Rim Drive would have cost the city about $1 million dollars and absorbed the city’s street budget for the year, he said.

“We just didn’t have the money,” Lloyd said.

Rim Drive is “something that needed to be done,” Lloyd said. “Had it not been for the bike race, we might have done it in four different pieces. So we decreased the complexity of what we were doing so we could do the whole thing and keep it within our budget.”

“That’s why we’re doing the chip-and-seal rather than an overlay,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd described chip-and-seal as a three-step process of spraying the road with an asphalt oil and covering with layers of sand and chip, or crushed rock.

For a point of reference, Lloyd said: “The new surface is identical to the road surface on County Road 211 going to Lake Nighthorse.”

The city will spend $180,000 on the resurfacing. Like the city, the college also chose to chip-and-seal Rim Drive, except for a section of 790 feet that was repaved. The college spent $131,230 altogether, said Wayne Kjonaas, director of the physical plant at FLC.

With all of the improvements, Compton wondered if Rim Drive could get a bicycle lane, too.

“Any time you have a bike lane, it makes it better for the cyclist and the driver,” he said.

Kjonaas said the college did not consider the resurfacing to be a complete reconstruction of Rim Drive so a bicycle lane was not included.

Amber Blake, the city’s multimodal director, said the city did not include a new bicycle lane because the width of the road is so inconsistent. The city did not want a bicycle lane to “stop and start” in various places along the road.

jhaug@durangoherald.com

Road crews from GMCO Corporation of Rifle chip-and-seal scenic Rim Drive with its overlook of downtown Durango from Fort Lewis College. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Road crews from GMCO Corporation of Rifle chip-and-seal scenic Rim Drive with its overlook of downtown Durango from Fort Lewis College.

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