Rio Grande Trail open house set in Aspen |

Rio Grande Trail open house set in Aspen

ASPEN – The first of three public open houses to review options for paving the gravel stretch of the Rio Grande Trail outside Aspen, or providing a hard-surface alternative, will take place Tuesday at the Pitkin County Library.

Also planned are two site visits – on Aug. 28 and Sept. 11, both from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Participants will meet at Stein Park and should be prepared to ride their bikes eight miles out and back. The group will stop at several locations to discuss existing conditions and connection options.

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails is organizing the opportunities to provide input. Tuesday’s session will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

In addition, the open space program has established a Web link – – devoted to the topic. There, those who are interested can read a summary of the options under consideration and an engineering report. The site also offers a link to a brief online survey regarding the options (comments are due by Sept. 21).

About 4 miles of the trail between Aspen and Woody Creek is the only significant piece of the 42-mile trail between Aspen and Glenwood Springs that is not currently paved.

The options under consideration for the segment range in price from an estimated $700,000 to $22 million. They include: upgrading the existing soft-surface stretch but leaving it as a gravel surface only (the least expensive option); upgrading the existing gravel stretch and creating climbing lanes for bicyclists on both ends of McLain Flats Road, a route that bypasses the trail; create a dual-surface trail in the existing corridor, with pavement only in the narrowest stretch; or create a dual-surface trail along the Rio Grande throughout the gravel section (the mostly costly option). Another option involves creating a dual-surface trail on the Woody Creek end and a paved route via a new 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.

Other open houses will take place Aug. 21 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Snowmass Village Town Hall and Sept. 12 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Colorado Mountain College’s Aspen campus, in the art gallery room.

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