Garfield County commissioners agree to $1M for South Canyon trail |

Garfield County commissioners agree to $1M for South Canyon trail

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. – The Lower Valley Trail Group received Garfield County’s support Monday to go for the whole funding enchilada this year in an attempt to complete the South Canyon trail project by 2013.

LOVA is applying for a $1.5 million Great Outdoors Colorado grant to go toward completion of the remaining 1.8-mile section of trail alongside Interstate 70 between West Glenwood and South Canyon. The remaining work is estimated to cost about $2.9 million.

LOVA spokesman Larry Dragon was before the Garfield Board of County Commissioners in Rifle Monday asking for an additional $1 million in funding to leverage the GOCO grant proposal.

The county had tentatively agreed to additional funds in 2013 and 2014. Dragon said that commitment is now needed up front to bolster the grant request.

Other funding for the project so far has come from the city of Glenwood Springs and the town of New Castle, in addition to a federal transportation enhancement grant, Dragon said.

“This is the most ambitious phase of the project,” he said. “It will allow us to have a continuous trail that actually goes somewhere.”

Already completed is a 650-foot segment of trail in West Glenwood, including a bridge over Mitchell Creek, and another 2,000-foot segment from the South Canyon bridge running east toward Glenwood Springs. The new 1.8-mile section would connect the two completed sections.

The total cost for the project is estimated at around $4.4 million once complete, although the final phase has not been put out to bid yet.

“The engineering cost estimates were higher than what we anticipated for this final phase,” Dragon said. “We’re hopeful the numbers are actually going to be less when we go to bid.”

Due to the steep bank in places between I-70 and the Colorado River, the new trail segment involves extra engineering. It must also meet Colorado Department of Transportation standards because it’s in the highway right of way.

County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky questioned the overall construction cost for the project and said the county would not be able to help with ongoing maintenance and repairs in the future.

“Trails are very important for Glenwood Springs and Garfield County,” Jankovsky said. “But I have a hard time with this request. We don’t have a parks and rec or trails department, and we don’t have any intention of being in that business.”

Jankovsky ended up voting with commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson in support of the funding request.

“I also have a tough time not doing it, because we already have two ends of a trail going nowhere,” Jankovsky said.

Martin said it makes sense to go after all the funding now, instead of piecemeal over multiple years.

“I’d rather see us get it done now, and not have him come back before us every year,” Martin said of Dragon.

Dragon said the trail, once completed, will have an economic benefit.

“The trail construction will also create jobs immediately,” he said. “And there is evidence that these kinds of trails improve the economy by boosting tourism.”

County commissioners will also send a letter of support to go along with the GOCO request.

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