Woody Creek bike bridge likely on hold until 2013 | AspenTimes.com

Woody Creek bike bridge likely on hold until 2013

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – The wheels are turning, albeit slowly, on installation of a bike and pedestrian bridge on the Rio Grande Trail in Woody Creek.

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails officials had hoped the project would be part of this summer’s construction schedule, but next year is now more likely.

“We would have to have amazing luck to have it done this year,” said Dale Will, open space and trails director.

“Yeah, we won’t be constructing until next year,” said Lindsey Utter, recreation planner for Open Space and Trails. “It will hopefully start moving forward again.”

The county has allocated $350,000 in congestion-mitigation and air-quality grant funds to build the bridge, which gives the Colorado Department of Transportation review over the project. CDOT only recently asked the county to submit detailed plans after its review of preliminary plans for the bridge installation.

In addition, CDOT had been stumped by surveys that contained conflicting information about the boundary between county property and the neighboring Braun Ranch, though the bridge would be located on county property in either case. On Friday, the private landowner submitted an application for a plat amendment that will clear up the boundary issue, Will said.

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The bridge will carry the Rio Grande Trail across the creek adjacent to Upper River Road. The trail currently crosses the creek next to the road; a large culvert carries the water beneath the roadway and trail.

The bridge will allow for the straightening of a twisting, steep section of what is currently a gravel stretch of the trail just upvalley from the creek. Open Space and Trails officials have advocated the span to address safety, but last year some Woody Creek residents panned the bridge as “overkill” and took issue with its prefabricated design. The span will be 14 feet wide to accommodate nordic grooming equipment, and 110 feet long, but it was the height of the structure, roughly 8.5 feet with the deck suspended within it, that most troubled its detractors.

The delay on bridge construction has held up the paving of about a half-mile of the trail in the vicinity of the planned span. The rest of the trail as it passes through Woody Creek is now a dual-surface route, with both paved and soft-surface options.

“We get questions all the time – ‘Why is that section not done yet?'” Utter said.

janet@aspentimes.com