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South Canyon Trail costs rising

Donna Gray
Glenwood Spring correspondent

A $182,000 boost brings the funding effort for South Canyon hiking and biking trail closer to it’s goal, but the ambitious project remains in financial limbo.

The planned trail, from West Glenwood Springs through South Canyon, received the $182,000 grant from the Colorado State Parks and Trails Program. The funds will go toward the design and construction of the trail, said Larry Dragon, Lower Valley Trails Group.

The group has raised about $2 million toward the cost of the project, but the final price tag remains an unknown.

“The price is a moving target, it just keeps getting higher and higher,” Dragon said. “Unfortunately, due to the dramatically rising costs for … construction materials and greater engineering and design requirements, we are clearly still in need of funds to complete the project.”

So far, the group has received funding from Great Outdoors Colorado, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Garfield County, the city of Glenwood Springs and the Bikes Belong Coalition.

The trail will head west from Glenwood Springs through narrow South Canyon, following the constricted strip between Interstate 70 and the Colorado River.

“Because there is little room outside of the highway guard rails before the steep embankment, the trail will require the construction of retaining walls for 60 to 70 percent of its length,” he said.

Necessary retaining walls ” the most expensive aspect of the project, Dragon said ” will drive up the cost.

Other considerations, such as the width of the trail and the material it will be paved with ” cement or asphalt ” are also a cost consideration, he added.

Although the group has a sizable amount of money in hand, it may still have to raise a significant amount of money in one year, Dragon noted.

Plans call for completion of the trail design and awarding of the construction contract in October. Construction should begin in the spring of 2007 and be completed that fall.

Last week LoVa held a public meeting to invite comment on the trail plan. A preliminary trail design was unveiled along with alternative trail widths and related cost.

“Most of the input reflected the excitement of citizens to a trail that will connect Glenwood Springs to the communities to the west,” Dragon said.

That stretch of highway through narrow South Canyon is the only route for traffic. Highway 6 begins at the Canyon Creek exit.

Prospective trail users said they would like a wide trail, but that may not be possible for the full length of that segment.

“The problem with width is money, and money is the issue,” he said.

Once the West Glenwood to South Canyon trail segment is completed, the trail will be continued to Canyon Creek where it will link up with Highway 6.


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