This is going to sound crazy, but just hear me out and wait a day before you react. Maybe get a tall drink and take a seat?
Maybe the FS should just forget about the trail, and just acquire the section of Buffalo Rd. (from the big parking lot to the first driveway on the left going west a the bottom of the hill) and gate it off, turning it into a strictly pedestrian/bike path? (i.e., Buffalo Rd. becomes a dead end, both coming from the center of town and from Sand Hill Rd. to the west.)
The town then doesn't have to worry about car/pedestrian accidents, another auto accident fatality like last summer, the cost of the poposed guard rails on the very exposed section, the cost of maintaing the road and paving it... and the FS saves alot of money and solves a headache... the climbers get safer access...the benefits are numerous.
Disclosure: I now live on Buffalo Rd., west of the cliffs. But this would actually add 2 or 3 minutes to my daily commute because I'd have to go out to Rt. 25 via Sand Hill Rd. I think it might be worth it.
Sure, there'll be some bitching about how it takes 3 minutes longer to go to the "dump" (transfer station) by my fellow residents who used to go that way, but people will get over it, and they bitch about everything anyway.
(Funny: I used to be annoyed by the cars when I lived in Bristol and climbed/walked the road at Rumney; now that I live on Buffalo Rd. I'm more likely to be irked by the groups of 4 climbers walking the road, side by side (on both sides of the road), sipping coffee and talking it up, oblivious to the cars trting to avoid them and oncoming traffic... Although when I do walk from my house to the cliffs, the old feeling of the cars being in my way resurfaces...)
Residents west of the Dump will see some increased traffic, because now everyone will be going to the dump the same way, but that will be offset by the elimination of traffic going to Rumney to climb from the west- everyone will be going to the cliffs the same way , the other way... (And other former thru-traffic will longer travel the road because it's a dead end.) And residents will now have a much needed place to walk or take their kids bike riding without any cars on it.
The town would have to buy the triangular driveway of the first landowner on the left (traveling west) to create a turnaround (not a parking lot- that would stay where it is). Should be cheap- it's only about 50 ft. around. (Hopefully they'll sell to help solve the problem and realize that living the end of a dead end road probably fits in with their reasons for living in Rumney anyway?)
There will still be some climbers walking on the road between the new cul-de-sac and the Pole 37 trail, but perhaps that could be solved with a trail? (And if not, it will now be dead end with much less car traffic, anyway, so they can continue to act like they own the whole road with better safety :-))
The Sand Hill Rd, bridge is in poor shape as it is.
The town will have to plow the turnarounds, but they won't have to plow that section of road amymore.
I'm sure there's more hitches.
It's just an idea, so don't get all psycho the way I've seen people do here. It's not like I have the time to push the idea anywhere anyway. And a few of my climbing neighbors hated the idea and already let me know it already.
I know it may sound crazy, but so has almost every other idea when it's first floated. (Fly through the air like a bird? You're nuts, Orville! A walking path from Georgia to Maine? You're out of your mind. Climb that overhanging crack? It'll never go. Remove dams for fish? Never...)
Nothing pleases everyone, but a liitle compromise and creativity might produce something that's a win-win all around.
The Baker River will eventually carve the road out there anyway with it's geologic way of thinking, so no matter what, mother nature and I win in the end... so don't get too worked up now! Buffalo Rd. will eventually be a dead-end, although we'll probaly be dead by then, too! Nature bats last...