RFTA will get to the root of the problem on trail | AspenTimes.com

RFTA will get to the root of the problem on trail

The Rio Grande Trail is suffering from some unsightly bulges, prompting the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) to go after the root of the problem.

RFTA will spend between $85,000 and $100,000 to repair the damage caused by invading roots in sections of the popular route and to prevent future invasions. RFTA Chief Executive Officer Dan Blankenship said the work is necessary because the bulges caused by the roots make the trail unsafe in spots, especially for skinny-tired road bicycles. The agency’s board of directors on Thursday approved a supplemental allocation of $75,000 from its reserves for the project.

The roots have damaged sections of the trail in Emma, near Rock Bottom Ranch and in the stretch between Catherine Bridge and Carbondale, according to Mike Hermes, director of facilities and trails. Bubbles and gaps in the trail surface have been outlined with chalk to make them more visible to trail users.

Hermes said cottonwood tree roots are the most common culprits. The trail wasn’t constructed in a way that prevents roots from migrating into the trail corridor from off on the sides, he said. “We kind of learned our lesson there,” Hermes said.

The repair will include digging up the surface and subsurface of the trail, installing a vertical barrier, then repaving and rebuilding the shoulder. The work will be undertaken in the fall, so cyclists must keep their eyes out for the bulges this summer. The path will remain open but require some detours when the work gets under way.

“You’ve got to keep it open. It’s too popular to close it,” Hermes said.

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scondon@aspentimes.com

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