Pitkin County is ready to roll on new bicycle trails | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County is ready to roll on new bicycle trails

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The extension of the popular East Aspen Trail and the paving of a new trail link in the Woody Creek area should be done before the year is out.

The Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Board received an update Thursday on several of its own projects and discussed potential partnerships on future trail projects with the city of Aspen.

Work could begin as early as next week on a paved trail that will link the Aspen Mass property near the intersection of Highway 82 and Brush Creek Road with Jaffee Park along the Roaring Fork River near Woody Creek. Trail users will cross the river over a former vehicle bridge that is now used solely by pedestrians.

The county project will cost $159,000 ? about $30,000 more than it would cost to create a gravel trail ? but the Open Space Board agreed to go with the asphalt option. The gravel trail would be difficult to maintain, given the steepness of the grade from Aspen Mass down to the river, and the trail is expected to tie into a future hard-surface trail linking Highway 82 to Snowmass Village in the Brush Creek Valley.

?My recommendation is asphalt on this trail because it is tying in with the Brush Creek Trail, which has always been envisioned as a commuter trail to get road bikes off Brush Creek [Road],? said Dale Will, director of the Open Space Program.

Once the Brush Creek Trail is built, the link between Aspen Mass and Jaffee Park will connect Brush Creek to the Rio Grande Trail, which will eventually become part of a bicycle/pedestrian trail extending from Aspen to Glenwood Springs.

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In addition, the county is moving forward with plans for an extension of the East Aspen Trail from its current terminus along Highway 82 to Difficult Campground, said Temple Glassier, deputy director for the county Public Works Department.

The county is now seeking bids for what is budgeted as an $820,000 project. The extended trail will be constructed of finely crushed gravel ? a continuation of what?s already in place on the East Aspen Trail ? with a bridge taking the new section across a wetlands area that abuts the highway.

Also slated to begin next week is construction of a wildlife viewing platform, complete with a telescope for public use, at the county?s North Star Nature Preserve, an open-space parcel along the East Aspen Trail. The platform, at a cost of about $8,800, will be built in the area of the paraglider landing area, Glassier said.

As it contemplates trails expenditures next year, the Open Space and Trails Board will have a couple of funding requests from the city of Aspen to contemplate.

The city hopes to extend a pedestrian/bike path up Maroon Creek Road from Iselin Park to Aspen Highlands Village and is scheduled to complete the bike path that is now under construction along Cemetery Lane.

Jeff Woods, director of the city?s Parks Department, asked the Open Space and Trails Board to consider allocating roughly $350,000 for the Maroon Creek trail project, which will cross county open-space holdings along the creek, and $150,000 toward the new trail bridge that will span the Roaring Fork River at the bottom of Cemetery Lane.

The city is also pursuing a future trail connection along Castle Creek Road to the Aspen Music School campus, but that project isn?t likely to see construction in 2003, Woods said.

?I really do think of the Castle Creek Music School trail as our top priority,? said board member Tom Cardamone, who also serves on the city?s new Open Space and Trails Committee.

?I?d like to see the Music School a higher priority. That?s been on our radar screen for years,? agreed Hawk Greenway, county Open Space Board member. He agreed, though, that all of the projects are worthy of the board?s consideration.

?I feel that we ought to have all these trail projects on our potential project list,? Greenway said.

Woods estimated the cost of the Maroon Creek trail at $500,000 to $700,000. The high price is due to the three bridges that would be necessary to span deep cuts in the Maroon Creek gorge on the west side of the road. It?s possible, though, that Highlands Village developer Hines Resorts will step up as a partner in that trail project, he said.