ASPEN - The needed installation of a bridge on the Brush Creek Trail outside Snowmass Village could provide Pitkin County with an opportunity to use pieces of the old Maroon Creek pedestrian bridge - or not.
The county Open Space and Trails program is looking at the need for a 144-foot span in order to move the trail off private property and carry it over Brush Creek and adjacent wetlands.
"A brand new bridge of that size is pretty costly," said Dale Will, open space and trails director.
Using pieces of the old Maroon Creek span would save the county roughly $200,000, he said. A new bridge would cost a little more than $500,000, according to estimates, while using segments of the old bridge would run about $300,000.
The Brush Creek Trail, a paved path that runs between Highway 82 and the edge of Snowmass Village, was constructed in 2006, giving bicyclists and pedestrians an alternative to using busy and constricted Brush Creek Road. The trail is closed during the winter months, however, out of deference to wildlife - primarily elk.
When the trail was built, pieces of the dismantled Maroon Creek bridge were to span Brush Creek near Cozy Point South - on the Highway 82 end of the trail - but the adjacent property owner didn't want to see the old bridge there, according to Will. Instead, the trail uses a box culvert shared with the property owner to cross the creek. It was a temporary arrangement and it's time is up, he said.
"We really need our own bridge," Will said.
The county still has three segments of the old Maroon Creek bridge; they're sitting in storage in Carbondale. A fourth was sold for scrap and four others were incorporated into Basalt's Willits bike/pedestrian bridge across the Roaring Fork River near Emma.
The county intended to use part of the dismantled bridge at a second Brush Creek crossing, near Snowmass Village, when it built the trail, but the town objected to the aesthetics of the second-hand bridge and chipped in $90,000 to get a span it liked.
How the public would feel about using pieces of the old bridge farther down the Brush Creek Valley is hard say, though the bridge wasn't well received in its initial location over Maroon Creek.
"Nobody seemed to like that bridge in it's original location," Will said.
On the other hand, the Basalt span, which has been painted to blend in and isn't blocking any views, seems to have found acceptance. Will believes pieces of the bridge on lower Brush Creek could be similarly embraced.
"It would probably, in my opinion, look just fine," he said.
The Maroon Creek pedestrian bridge was in place for a decade, right next to the old Highway 82 bridge over the Maroon Creek gorge on the outskirts of Aspen. It was dismantled when a new highway bridge that includes a pedestrian/bike crossing was constructed. The old pedestrian span was made of eight, 82-foot sections and must be used in 82-foot increments. Two of them could be incorporated into the Brush Creek segment, according to Will.
Since the Brush Creek Trail closes for the winter Dec. 1, no changes are likely to occur this year, Will said. Rather, a decision will be made and design work done so that whatever span is chosen can be installed next year.