Garco pledges $300,000 to bike trail
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A group working to build a biking and walking trail through South Canyon west of Glenwood Springs won a partial bailout Monday from the Garfield County commissioners.
The Lower Valley Trails Group (LoVa) hit a major roadblock recently when it received only one contract bid for a 2.3-mile section of trail just west of the city along Interstate 70. Kiewit Corp.’s bid of $3.9 million was substantially higher than the $2 million to $2.3 million budgeted for the project.
The section between West Glenwood and the Canyon Creek exit on I-70 is costly because the highway runs in a narrow corridor between the Colorado River on the south and Storm King Mountain on the north, significantly limiting construction options.
After much discussion the commissioners agreed to give the trails group $300,000 on the condition they find the rest of the funds from other sources.
LoVa Executive Director Larry Dragon said the group is $300,000 to $600,000 short of the $3.9 million needed for the trail. He said Kiewit also offered a bid of $2.6 million for approximately one mile of trail to “a wide area” between the river and the interstate. “We’d love to do as much as we can and make it look like a real trail,” he said.
The group has won a $1.25 million grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, and the city of Glenwood Springs recently voted to give $250,000 to the project. The Colorado Department of Transportation has also contributed $268,000. Garfield County has been the biggest financial supporter, giving almost $1 million and many hours of engineering and planning staff time to designing the trail.
County Commissioner Tresi Houpt expressed strong support for the trail. “This project has been in the works for so long … I’d hate to see us lose that (GOCO money),” she said. Her first motion to commit $600,000 toward the trail met with equally strong opposition from Commissioner Larry McCown. “I cannot support spending that kind of money on recreation,” he said. Both McCown and Commissioner John Martin voted against it.
Martin also voiced concerns about the trail being a continual money drain. He moved to give $300,000 with the proviso that LoVa make up the shortfall on the contract price from other sources. That vote failed with a “no” from Houpt as well as McCown. “Folks, stop and use a little common sense,” McCown said. “(This is) $1.7 million for the most expensive bicycle trail cul-de-sac. We could develop 10 miles of trail (in Silt and Rifle) for what we’re spending on one mile.”
Dragon said the group had explored that possibility but would have lost the GOCO grant if it switched to another area. He also explained there was a sense of urgency about getting the additional money because Kiewit’s bid was set to terminate at the end of the month. However, a representative from Kiewit told the commissioners the company would extend the life of the bid to accommodate the trail group’s fundraising efforts.
With that concession in place, Martin once again moved to give LoVa $300,000. It passed with one dissenting vote from McCown.
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