Trail officials say Aspen Glen path is unsafe |

Trail officials say Aspen Glen path is unsafe

Jim Files

Garfield County officials were a little uncertain Monday just how much they wanted to hold a developer’s feet to the fire for dragging those same feet in the building of a promised trail.

“I’m not sure what we can do legally,” Commissioner Walt Stowe murmured.

Commissioner John Martin looked uncomfortable with the question and said discussions between the developer and the county planning department were ongoing, and the trail would eventually come about. It just might not come until sometime down the road.

There are things to be worked out, he said.

At issue is a separated hiking and biking trail along County Road 109 through the Aspen Glen development. According to the county’s original approval of the upscale gated golf course community, such a trail was to be completed as part of that OK.

Garfield County itself had verbally committed to building a connecting trail along the part of Road 109 outside the development, but ran into trouble obtaining the necessary rights of way, along with just plain not having enough money to do the project. They opted instead for painting some lines along one side of the road to separate them as a place for bikes and pedestrians.

After that decision, Aspen Glen representatives came back to the commissioners and said, in effect, that if the county wasn’t going to build a separate trail along 109, they shouldn’t have to, either.

The commissioners rejected that reasoning and reiterated the need for the developer to come up with a trail.

What brought the question back to the fore Monday was an appearance before the commissioners by representatives from both the Glenwood Springs and Carbondale trail commissions.

On their mind were both safety concerns along the county’s portion of 109 and Aspen Glen’s failure to meet its obligations.

“Nothing has happened in Aspen Glen, and it’s five years old now,” said Bob Lucas of the Carbondale Trail Commission.

“I believe that (the separated trail) was a part of their approval,” said Bruce Christensen from Glenwood Springs.

But Aspen Glen’s foot dragging aside, of greater moment, both men said, is the county’s stretch of the road.

“There’s no shoulder on one side at all,” Lucas said, “and there’s only 3 feet on the other between the road and the guardrail, and only 2 feet of that is paved. I can’t believe this is safe at all.”

Bicycle and pedestrian traffic along Road 109 has increased recently, Christensen said, “because 82 is just so dreadful.” Trying to negotiate a narrow pathway separated from traffic lanes by only a painted stripe on the pavement is exposing people “to significant danger out there,” he said.

Commissioner Martin acknowledged that the county had hoped for a 4-feet-wide pedestrian and bike lane along the road, but were constrained by a lack of right of way in places.

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