Carbondale studies how to improve link between Red Hill, town | AspenTimes.com

Carbondale studies how to improve link between Red Hill, town

John Colson
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Christopher Mullen / Special to The Post Independent

CARBONDALE — Plans to build a better connection between the town and a popular hike-and-bike trail, known as the Red Hill Special Recreation Management Area, took a crucial step last week when the town received the final report on the idea from a team of five consulting firms recommending a tunnel under Highway 82 and a 6-foot trail alongside Garfield County Road 107 (Red Hill Road).

The project, which is still in the planning stages, would involve building a new, safer crossing of Highway 82 for cyclists and pedestrians than currently exists; a separate trail along approximately 1,400 feet of CR 107, which leads northward from the intersection of Highways 82 and 133, up to and past the Red Hill trailhead; a pedestrian bridge across the Roaring Fork River just east of the existing automobile bridge; and connections to trails leading into town or to the Gateway Park on the west side of Highway 133.

A lengthy process of community meetings and analysis favored what is known as Option 2, which involves construction of an 8-foot separated bike-pedestrian trail across mostly private land along CR 107, requiring purchase of easements, at least, across the private property. The report cites concerns among those involved in the planning process that the cost of Option 2, about $1.15 million, is out of reach at this time.

Instead, the consultants picked an "interim solution" that calls for construction of the 6-foot trail right alongside the road, separated by a guardrail from auto traffic on the road. This option is estimated to cost approximately $750,000 and would involve construction of retaining walls to support the trail and the road that would reach heights of 12 feet or so.