The parallel trail fabrication |

The parallel trail fabrication

Dear Editor:

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has long opposed an excursion train on its railroad. To prevent this happening, it has perhaps unwittingly fostered a fabrication that a Glenwood-Carbondale trail paralleling the railroad will cost an added $3.2 million.

There need be no added cost. Where terrain, slopes and wetlands present problems, an elevated boardwalk can be built on the surface with minimal environmental impact. It is faster and less expensive at $52 per foot of trail than the RFTA cost, avoiding problem areas, of $75 per foot. I am sure other solutions exist. What about using the ties salvaged in the upper valley?

RFTA estimates its trail cost in problem areas at $250 per foot. Costs for five boardwalk solutions for problem areas have been studied in detail. Three of the solutions come in at $52 per foot. These costs include the decking, supports, fence and labor required for an installed boardwalk. Materials considered were chosen for long life expectancy, minimum of maintenance, environmental compatibility and a suitable trail surface. The costs are conservatively calculated and contain a built-in contingency factor. The boardwalk approach demonstrates that there is at least one alternative that doesn’t lead to increased cost.

It’s more than a shame that this fabrication has stood unchallenged so long. Its prorogation has influenced RFTA thinking, leading it to scrap the rails and turn away excursion train proposals. It has set rail supporters against trail advocates.

Visit the Rails and Trails website at for more information.

Kip Wheeler

Rails and Trails


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