NEW CASTLE, Colorado - Town officials are working to build a three-part bridge that will carry pedestrians and bicyclists from the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and Castle Valley Boulevard, across to the south side of the Colorado River.
"It is three bridges, because of the grade crossings at the ramps," said Town Manager Tom Baker. Most official references to the project have named it, simply, "the bridge."
Baker said the town is hoping to start on the project in 2013.
"I've been the point man on the council for this project," said Councilor Greg Russi, explaining that the project has been under discussion for nearly two years. The reason for the bridge, he said, is safety.
There is a growing population living on the south side of the river opposite the historic town site, he said, along with an increasing number of businesses. And that has led to increased foot traffic, bicyclists and others using the existing bridge over I-70, and having to compete with growing vehicular traffic.
"I've seen mothers pushing strollers, kids on skateboards, and others who don't have a car, or access to a car, walking across the bridge," he remarked. The situation adds up to accidents waiting to happen, he said.
The project, estimated to cost $3.7 million to $4 million, involves construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 6 and Castle Valley Boulevard at the east end of town. A trail will connect the roundabout to the northernmost of three spans that will make up the new bridge.
The northern span is to jump over the railroad tracks and connect to the top of the westbound I-70 on-ramp, linking to an at-grade pedestrian crosswalk. A stop sign will control traffic.
The middle span will cross over I-70 and connect to the top of the eastbound I-70 off-ramp, again with a crosswalk with a stop sign where the ramp meets the existing bridge.
The third and southernmost span, Baker said, will stretch over the Colorado River to County Road 335, the Colorado River Road.
The pedestrian bridge will be constructed just to the west, or downstream, of the existing automotive bridge, with a short gap separating the two, Russi said.
Engineering, planning and fundraising are all taking place simultaneously, Baker said.
Baker said the town has spent more than $135,000 to date on design and planning.
He said the town is hoping to recoup some of that money in grants from Garfield County, from the Federal Mineral Leasing District (FMLD) that disburses energy-related money to local governments, and from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.
Already, Baker said, the town has gotten $231,000 in FMLD assistance for the project. He said Garfield County has committed to grants of $500,000 per year in 2013 and 2014, although the county has left open the possibility of combining the two grants into a single $1 million sum for either year.
In addition, Baker said, the town has applied for a Department of Local Affairs grant of $800,000. Because DOLA grants typically require matching amounts from the receiving government, Baker said, the town may use a mix of county money and town funds for that purpose.