Sign pilot project tackles trailhead parking problems
Hikers who make frequent trips to Eagle and Symphony Lakes know the early bird gets the parking spot.
“I’ve counted 75 cars on a weekend. When I see that I don’t hike here, I go somewhere else,” said Lisa Moorehead, who hikes that trail with her dog Kota about twice a week.
The Upper South Fork Trailhead in Eagle River only has room for about 40 vehicles in its lot. On a sunny weekend day, the lot quickly fills up, leaving people to park along the roadway.
To combat the crowds, the Municipality Traffic Department installed “No Parking” signs on one side of the street. Trail users said it’s a balance of access to popular recreation sites while taking neighbors’ concerns into account.
“These are multi-use trails and people have to both share them with users and you have to be respectful of homeowners,” said Bob Scoggins who was headed out for a run to Flute Glacier. “There are some trails that actually cross private land and I think it’s important to respect the homeowners.”
Honey Bear Lane in Bear Valley had a similar problem. There are only five designated spots in a cul-de-sac at the end of the road. Nearby homeowners said cars are continually lined up around the corner even though the road isn’t wide enough.
“If you can’t park off the road and leave 20 foot clear, you shouldn’t be parking,” explained traffic engineer Stephanie Mormilo.
That’s why the department began a new pilot project in that area. Crews installed a general “No Parking” order at the beginning of the neighborhood, citing the municipal code for obstructing traffic. The sign is only posted on one side but applies to both.
“Some people are confused and we have received a couple of inquiries from people who go up there regularly asking what the sign means and what the code reference is,” Mormilo said.
She said many trails have parking issues but the muni doesn’t want to solve all the problems by creating a “forest of signs.”
Mormilo said each mile of the road takes about 70 signs if they’re put up on both sides. Not only does that ruin the natural landscape, it’s also costly.
“AT $100-150 per sign post between the foundation, the pole and the post itself you’re talking more than $10,000 worth of investment,” Mormilo said. “That is a third of our signage budget to post for one street.”
Mormilo hopes installing fewer signs will save money but still get the message across. The traffic department will monitor the effectiveness of the No Parking signs on Honey Bear Lane through the rest of the year. If the pilot project is successful they’ll look at installing the same kind of signs at the Upper South Fork trailhead next summer.
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