Funds secured for trailbetween Emma, Hooks | AspenTimes.com
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Funds secured for trailbetween Emma, Hooks

There’s been good news and bad news this month in the ongoing quest to extend the Rio Grande Trail downvalley from Emma.Local partners landed a grant to help cover the cost of extending the trail 1.1 mile downvalley from Emma.But a second, larger grant to build almost three miles of trail between Carbondale and Catherine Bridge was denied. The Roaring Fork Transit Authority and town of Carbondale plan to reapply for the funds and create a stronger bid.RFTA and the MidValley Trails Committee, a group of volunteers from the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County, are chipping in about $100,000 each to construct the trail from Emma to Hooks Lane. That effort got a boost recently when a $122,320 grant was awarded through the Colorado State Parks Trail Program.Jacque Whitsitt, chairwoman of the Midvalley Trails Committee, said she is optimistic that the Emma-to-Hooks stretch will be completed this fall.In addition, the Midvalley Trails Committee received a $36,000 state grant to help build a short link between Hooks Lane and Willits Lane.This latest project could mark a milestone in the dream of creating a valleywide trail. When it is complete, a person could travel roughly 20 miles from downtown Aspen to west Basalt on a pedestrian trail. That 20 miles represents half the length that is needed.The next 20 miles might not come so easily. RFTA applied to the state trails program for about $225,000 to help with construction between the Catherine Bridge and Carbondale, according to Lori Malcolm, recreation trails program manager for the state parks department. About 50 percent of grant applications receive funding, but RFTA’s bid fell just short of the mark.Mike Hermes, director of trails and lands for RFTA, said the agency applied on its own for the funds. It helps when two or more entities team on a project. So RFTA and Carbondale will team on a new application and try to sign up Garfield County as a partner. He’s hopeful the funds will be landed next year.If Catherine to Carbondale becomes reality in 2005, that would leave a 4.7-mile gap between Hooks Lane and Catherine Bridge to fill.Further downvalley, the town of Carbondale has already built a one-mile stretch of trail through town limits on the old railroad right of way.In the 11 miles between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, the stretch between County Road 154, which goes behind Aspen Glen, and Buffalo Valley is being targeted. Hermes said that stretch is a high priority because there is no alternative to Highway 82.Once that section is completed, a person could ride a bike from Aspen to Glenwood without using Highway 82.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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