Trail opens to mixed reviews |

Trail opens to mixed reviews

Shelby Lee/The Aspen Times

The Rio Grande Trail, between Cemetery Lane and Rio Grande Park, opened for walkers, joggers and bikers on Friday, despite the fact that it is still a construction zone, with trucks and back hoes. “Looks like it’s not quite finished,” said Karen Ross, of Houston, who was out biking the trail on Friday. “It’s still going to be a hike and bike trail, right? It won’t be open to traffic, right?”

As the trail stands now, with orange netting along the sides for most of the length, a good deal of heavy equipment and a width only slightly less than a county road, the question is fair, and Ross asked it earnestly. When she found out that it was still going to be a trail, she said she felt positively about the changes. “We look forward to riding a nice wide trail next summer,” she said.The trail was supposed to be paved and finished by the first of July. The sewer replacement in the area, which preceded widening the trail, was more complicated than was originally thought. Now, paving will likely not begin until after Labor Day. The Rio Grande is being expanded from an 8 foot paved trail to a 10 foot paved trail with a 4 to 6 foot running trail and another 4 feet for a ski trail in the winter, totaling 20 feet.

Informal polling along the trail on Friday suggested that out-of-town visitors generally seemed to think the trail widening is a good idea. While Aspenites were not as pleased. No one was particularly happy about the current state of the trail. “It’s okay, but it’s a construction zone,” said Joe Ashton, of Canyon City. “Looks like it’ll be four lanes.”There will be grading on the trail next week and paving will likely wait until the end of the summer so that people can use it during the next month.

“This summer it’s an inconvenience,” said Jan Gattis. “But a little inconvenience for a lot of improvement is just the way of life.”Local Michelle Skagen said she was happy to see multi-use possibilities being created on the trail but expressed disappointment about the ultimate width of the trail. “It’s reflective of what’s happening valleywide,” she said, “out-of-control development.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is

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