City applies brakes on Jail Trail redo |

City applies brakes on Jail Trail redo

Cost estimate for project came in at nearly $1M and the trail still wouldn’t be ADA compliant

A biker rides down the 278-foot-long trail that connects Rio Grande Park and Main Street in Aspen on Wednesday, March 5, 2021. (Photo by Kelsey Brunner)

The city of Aspen is delaying a controversial project that would reduce the grade of the notoriously steep Jail Trail by over 5%.

The 278-foot-long trail connects Rio Grande Park and Main Street, and has a grade of 12.5%.

To get it at 7.5%, which is the minimum grade possible due to the topography in that area, wouldn’t meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, and it was estimated to cost $600,000.

For that price and not being ADA compliant, some Aspen City Council members weren’t supportive.

Citizens shared the same sentiment after council in January tentatively approved the project and asked the city’s engineering department to consider alternatives.

A recent cost estimate came back at nearly $1 million, according to Pete Rice, the city’s division manager in the engineering department.

He added another concern among a few council members was the necessary retaining wall would enclose people.

Rice and Mike Horvath, an engineering project manager with the city, are working on some exercises on what could be utilized to reduce the cost.

Rice said in an email that the city “can’t fully meet ADA without heavy cost additions. In general, we will need to hold this similar to the Oklahoma Flats Trail and work on the design until a few things drop in place. It’s a really tight corridor, and I think we need to get to a place that both council and open space are comfortable.”

The Oklahoma Flats Trail is a steep, short connector between the east end neighborhood to the river corridor leading to Rio Grande Park.

Pitkin County also plays a part in the project because it has a few years before it needs to replace the storm sewer, per its agreement with the city.

With the design work being done in house, the city has realized a cost savings of $7,000, Rice said.