RFTA needs $82,000, four weeks to clear Rio Grande Trail
August 12, 2011
CARBONDALE – It will cost an estimated $82,000 for the first round of clearing and repairing of a section of the Rio Grande Trail that was hit by 15 mudslides on July 18, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) officials said Thursday.
RFTA hopes to have enough of the work completed by Labor Day weekend to open the trail section between Catherine Bridge and Rock Bottom Ranch, according to Mike Hermes, director of facilities and trails. That section is about 4 miles east or upvalley from Carbondale.
RFTA hired a company called Independent Trucking to start the cleanup this week. It will remove boulders, rocks and dirt that was dumped onto a 1.5-mile stretch of the trail corridor by three major slides and 12 minor ones. The slides were triggered by a torrential downpour in the late afternoon of July 18. The National Weather Service recorded more than 2 inches of rain falling in one hour in the hillside above the trail.
The biggest of the slides dumped an estimated 300 cubic yards of materials on the trail, up to 25 feet deep, Hermes said. That amount would fill 30 standard dumptrucks.
“Phase One of the project is to clean-up debris, make the area as safe as possible, and get the trail open as quickly as possible,” Hermes wrote in a memo to the RFTA board of directors. The work will include cleaning ditches and culverts, and constructing new rock retaining walls to guard the trails against future rainstorms and runoff from melting snow.
A second phase of the project will be to replace asphalt on damaged sections of the trail and assess if work needs to be done on the hillside adjacent to the trail to “mitigate” water runoff. The cost for the second phase is unknown.
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RFTA’s board of directors, meeting in Carbondale, voted unanimously Thursday to budget another $100,000 for trail repairs. The agency had $25,000 previously in that fund. The emergency appropriation will leave an estimated $42,800 in the fund after the initial repairs. More funds might be necessary for the phase two work, Hermes said.
To limit the cost of the project, RFTA will try to use the rock and sand on site after getting it off the trail.
“Staff intends to use the material washed onto the rail corridor to construct a picnic area and river overlook where the main debris field is located,” Hermes wrote in his memo. “Other debris will be used to fill in the section of the rail platform that experienced scouring, build retaining walls and create material sorting and storage areas.”
The affected section of trail has been closed since the slides. Bicycle traffic is using Old Highway 82 and county roads as a detour.