Valleywide trail ready for next link | AspenTimes.com

Valleywide trail ready for next link

Aspen, CO ColoradoGLENWOOD SPRINGS The quest to complete a valleywide trail by 2010 is running ahead of schedule, according to the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.RFTA plans to build 5.1 miles of trail from Glenwood Springs upvalley to the Colorado Mountain College turnoff at Spring Valley Road this year. After that project, only a seven-mile stretch between Highway 133 in Carbondale and the CMC turnoff will remain to be paved.”Things are looking really good to finish up in 2009,” said Mike Hermes, RFTA’s director of property and trails.The stretch slated for paving this year is important because it will eliminate the need to use Highway 82 to travel between Carbondale and Glenwood, Hermes said. Once the Glenwood-to-CMC trail is built, County Road 109 provides a way for cyclists to stay off Highway 82 to Carbondale. That paved road parallels Highway 82 on the south side of Aspen Glen and the adjacent golf communities.Last year was a milestone in the trail’s development because the last link was completed between Aspen and Carbondale. The nearly 30-mile trail between the two towns is on the old Rio Grande Railroad right of way.Hermes said RFTA always intended to shift gears at this stage and work from Glenwood Springs to Carbondale because of safety concerns in the lower valley.A “rough estimate” on the cost of the trail project this year is $1,755,000, according to a memo from Hermes and RFTA chief executive officer Dan Blankenship to the agency’s board of directors.RFTA has budgeted up to $800,000 for the project and it received a federal grant for $870,000, according to the memo. Garfield County contributed $40,000, and the Colorado Department of Transportation gave a $122,000 grant. RFTA is still waiting to see if it receives a Colorado State Trails grant.The RFTA board of directors gave the staff permission Thursday to tear up and salvage the old train track from 23rd Street to Glenwood Spring’s southern boundary. RFTA planned to leave the railroad tracks in place out to Rosebud Cemetery in Glenwood Springs for use by a Heritage Train. Rail proponents want to run a train periodically between downtown Glenwood and the cemetery to celebrate the history of rail in the valley and promote its future use.”Recently, the financial backers of the Heritage Train project have withdrawn their support and it appears that the project is dead,” Hermes and Blankenship wrote in their memo. “Salvaging the tracks and ties from this section of the corridor would significantly reduce the complexity of constructing the trail in Glenwood Springs and reduce construction and planning costs.”RFTA already decided to salvage the train track elsewhere in the valley and allow use of the bed for a trail.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com.

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