Federal grant sought to improve access for Carbondale’s Red Hill | AspenTimes.com

Federal grant sought to improve access for Carbondale’s Red Hill

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – The town of Carbondale is applying for a federal grant to study options to enhance bicycle and pedestrian access to the popular Red Hill Recreation Area north of town at the busy Highway 82/133 intersection.

Carbondale Recreation Director Jeff Jackel is preparing to submit a 2010 Transit in the Parks (TRIP) grant application by the June 28 deadline.

“The application is for a project planning study to determine the feasibility of a non-motorized connection between the Red Hill area and the town,” Jackel explained in a recent memo to Carbondale trustees.

Currently, access to the network of trails on Red Hill is via County Road 107 from a small parking lot at the highway intersection. Those accessing the area by bike or foot must negotiate the rather dangerous crossing at the Highway 82 traffic light.

The study would look at the feasibility of either an underpass or overpass to access the area from the south, or an improved “at grade” crossing. It would also study whether a new trail access could be built alongside County Road 107 to the main trailhead, in order to avoid conflicts with residential traffic in the area, Jackel said.

“This is needed due to dangerous blind curves on County Road 107 involving cars and trail users,” he said.

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The existing parking lot is also oftentimes at capacity, with no room for expansion.

“We need to get people there without driving,” Jackel said.

An underpass could make use of an existing tunnel bore under Highway 82, which was sealed off at the south end when the Colorado Department of Transportation made improvements to the intersection a few years ago.

The tunnel would need to be larger in order for it to accommodate pedestrians and people on bikes.

“The whole purpose of the study would be to look at the options available, and the costs of an underpass versus an overpass,” Jackel said.

Carbondale officials are also awaiting word whether its most recent offer to purchase the nearby Sopris RV Park property will be accepted, and could hear by the end of the week if that’s the case.

The RV park is on the southwest corner of the highway intersection. Many long-term residents live in the area, which also has a popular boat launch on the Roaring Fork River.

“That would certainly open up some other possibilities,” Jackel said.

The area has been eyed for a future riverfront “Gateway Park,” including additional river trails and other recreational amenities such as a kayak park.

A $1 million Great Outdoors Colorado Grant for the project will expire at the end of this year, so putting some of the final pieces in place soon will be critical, Jackel said.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife has also put $950,000 toward the river park project in an effort to preserve the boat ramp. Garfield County has $100,000 invested in the effort.

jstroud@postindependent.com