Options for Rio Grande Trail ready for review
ASPEN – Options for paving the last gravel stretch of the Rio Grande Trail or providing a hard-surface alternative to the trail will be the focus of a series of upcoming public open houses.
The first session will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Pitkin County Library.
About 4 miles of the trail between Aspen and Woody Creek is the only piece of the 42-mile trail between Aspen and Glenwood Springs that is not currently paved.
The alternatives to be presented for public input (and estimated costs) are as follows:
• Upgrade the existing soft-surface stretch, but leave it as a gravel surface only ($700,000).
• Upgrade but keep the existing gravel stretch, and create paved climbing lanes for bicyclists on both ends of McLain Flats Road, a route that bypasses the trail. The bike lanes would require retaining walls, particularly on the upvalley end ($4.8 million).
• Create a dual-surface trail along the Rio Grande throughout the gravel section, requiring retaining walls and a bridge structure for about a mile where the trail cuts through a steep, shale slope ($22 million).
• Create a dual-surface trail in the existing corridor where there is room for both, with pavement only in the narrowest stretch ($4.75 million).
• Create a dual-surface trail on the Woody Creek end and a paved route via a bridge over the Roaring Fork River gorge that would connect to open space on the Highway 82 side of the river at roughly the downvalley end of the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport. A paved trail would then link into the Aspen Business Center and an existing bike-path system. The Rio Grande Trail above the bridge would remain gravel ($5.98 million).
“We want to set the stage for a pretty healthy public dialogue,” said Dale Will, Pitkin County open space and trails director. The open space program is seeking the public’s input as it considers what option to pursue.
Other open houses are Aug. 21 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Snowmass Village Town Hall and Sept. 21 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Colorado Mountain College’s Aspen campus. Go to http://www.aspenpitkin.com/openspace for more information.
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Aspen and Pitkin County have the largest black bear population and as such, are hoping for a big portion of a Colorado Parks and Wildlife grant to help educate and enforcement rules around securing trash.