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Bridge to face troubled waters?

Aspenites are known for enjoying a good scrap every now and then, like the debate over the pedestrian bridge built across Maroon Creek on the north side of Highway 82 in the mid-1990s.

But that’s one fight the folks at the Pitkin County Trails and Open Space Program would just as soon avoid when a similar pedestrian span gets erected downvalley next year.

The open space program wants to build a bridge at Wingo Junction that would connect a new trail running along the old railroad right of way. The pedestrian bridge is needed to connect the trail sections running north and south of Highway 82.

A trail will soon be completed that runs from the Emma area past Basalt High School, through the Roaring Fork Club and over the proposed Wingo Junction bridge, before tying into the existing Basalt-to-Old Snowmass trail.

That project will include refurbishing a historic railroad trestle just downvalley from Wingo Junction.

The proposed pedestrian bridge has the potential to be similar – almost identical – to the Maroon Creek pedestrian bridge.

“It will bring everybody out,” said Temple Glassier, project manager for Pitkin County, referring to the expected debate over the bridge’s design.

The Maroon Creek pedestrian bridge looks like an old railroad trestle. Some people hate it, some people love it, noted Dale Will, director of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails.

The upper valley debate over that design exploded after Pitkin County started construction. Will hopes to hold the downvalley debate before construction commences at Wingo. Toward that end, he unveiled three potential designs to the Basalt Town Council and solicited their opinions recently.

The downvalley bridge will be even more visible than its Maroon Creek counterpart. Instead of running parallel to the highway, as the Maroon Creek bridge does, the Wingo bridge would cross the highway.

One option being explored is a bridge that would be almost identical to the Maroon Creek bridge. It would be 320 feet long and 22 feet tall, according to Temple Glassier, project manager. The cost would be $614,000. That design would accommodate development of a rail line underneath, Glassier noted.

A shorter span would pare down the price and height of the bridge as well as the length. That option would be 280 feet long and 15 feet tall. It would cost about $520,000 but adjustments would have to be made if the railroad is ever resurrected, Glassier said.

A third option is for a more modern-looking bridge, but one that Glassier and Will felt would be most controversial because of its looks.

The project will go through Pitkin County’s regular 1041 review process, providing the public with a chance to comment. Basalt officials promised they would weigh into the debate.


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