Rio Grande Trail in midvalley to close for three weeks
CARBONDALE – A scenic midvalley portion of the Rio Grande Trail will remain closed for an estimated three more weeks to clean up dirt and rocks from mudslides that pummeled the route July 18.
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) accepted bids for the project Monday and expected work to begin by Wednesday or Thursday, said Mike Hermes, trails and facilities manager. The trail was covered by 15 slides in a 1.5-mile stretch when more than 2 inches of rain fell in an hour in the late-afternoon cloudburst last month. Three of the slides were major, with one dumping boulders, rocks and mud up to 25 feet on the trail. Another dozen were “nuisance slides” that RFTA deals with regularly, Hermes said.
The trail between Rock Bottom Ranch and Catherine Bridge has been closed since the slides. Through traffic on the popular trail has been sent on a detour that involves Willits Lane, Valley Road, old Highway 82 and Catherine Road. The detour routes riders around a 3.5-mile stretch of the trail.
Hermes said RFTA has fielded numerous telephone calls inquiring when the trail will open again.
At this point, it doesn’t appear that major sections of the trail must be rebuilt. “Most of the trail appears to be intact,” Hermes said. The asphalt on a section he estimated to be 30 feet long was damaged and will be opened this year with road base, a crushed type of gravel. A longer-term solution will be undertaken at a later date.
“I just want to get it open as soon as I can,” Hermes said.
Closer to Aspen, Pitkin County Open Space and Trails is clearing mudslide debris from a stretch between Stein Park and McLain Flats Road. The trail is open and passable, but cyclists and pedestrians should be aware of equipment.
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