Woody Creek bridge plan gets another look | AspenTimes.com

Woody Creek bridge plan gets another look

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
Courtesy Pitkin County Open Space and TrailsA computer-generated image depicts the planned new bridge on the Rio Grande Trail, spanning Woody Creek. Some residents of the area say the structure is too massive.

ASPEN – The height of a planned pedestrian and bike bridge on the Rio Grande Trail in Woody Creek will be staked out at noon Friday to give concerned residents of the neighborhood and members of the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails board a better sense of the structure in the landscape.

The county is pushing to get the bridge installed this summer to complete Rio Grande Trail work in the Woody Creek area, but the open space board’s selection of a bridge design last month has not found favor with some area residents. A handful of them appeared before the board on Thursday.

While the Woody Creek Caucus planning commission was consulted early on, as plans for trail improvements in Woody Creek were being explored, the final design changed dramatically, according to commission member Phil Holstein.

“What has developed is a much more massive structure,” he said. “It’s going to be very high and very, very visible. It’s going to become really a major, visual feature in the community.”

The open space board last month chose a prefabricated model for the span, which was $11,000 less than a custom bridge. Board members were split on which structure was more aesthetically pleasing.

The chosen span will be “very unsightly and difficult to live with,” Holstein predicted.

“The changes have been really substantial, without any input from the community,” added Jim Collins. “We’ve lost confidence in this process.”

The 110-foot bridge will be beefier and wider than originally envisioned, both to accommodate nordic grooming equipment and because of specifications imposed by the Colorado Department of Transportation. A $281,000 state grant was used for the overall trail paving/bridge project.

The engineering design of the bridge still requires CDOT approval, and open space director Dale Will voiced concern that a delay in moving ahead would prevent the bridge project and final paving work from being completed this year.

“We’re starting to get into somewhat of a time crunch,” he said. “We may be jeopardizing our ability to finish the project this summer.”

The height of the bridge – Holstein suggested the deck would be 10 feet higher than nearby Upper River Road – is but one concern for the span’s detractors.

Lowering the bridge is possible, but the county would face the cost of relocating fiber-optic cable buried beneath the trail to do so, according to Gary Tennenbaum, county land steward.

Though open space board members voiced a desire to get the project finished this year, they suggested they will consider the neighbors’ concerns.

“I would personally like to get this in this summer, but I want to do it right,” said board member Howie Mallory.

The bridge and abutments, as approved last month, were to cost $275,000.


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