Garfield County is all in to help New Castle move forward with its plans to build a safe pedestrian connection between town and two large residential neighborhoods on the other side of Interstate 70 and the Colorado River.
The town of New Castle recently awarded the bridge portion of the project to Gould Construction for approximately $2.5 million, town officials advised county commissioners last week.
Three separate bridge spans will cross the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, I-70 and the river, providing a foot and bicycle connection from U.S. Highway 6 to County Road 335.
From there, a 1.2-mile-long paved path is to be built between the river bank and the county road to the Apple Tree Park and Mountain Shadows mobile home parks.
The trail portion of the project is estimated to cost another $850,000, and includes some Great Outdoors Colorado (state lottery) funding.
It will be put out for bid later this month, with construction starting in August and completion by late October or early November, said project engineer Jeff Simonson of SGM.
However, it will be another year before the bridge is complete. That’s mainly because of a slight funding shortfall, and ongoing efforts to bring the project’s costs within budget, Simonson said.
Funding for the new pedestrian bridge includes $1 million from the county, a $231,000 Garfield Federal Mineral Lease grant and $500,000 from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.
The town has also now allocated $425,000 toward the project, including $75,000 in traffic impact funds and $50,000 from the town’s conservation trust fund reserves, Simonson said.
That leaves about a $344,000 gap, he said.
“We have started to work with the contractor, and it looks like we will be able to achieve about $300,000 in savings,” Simonson said.
That would mostly involve going to a single span over the Colorado River, which is the longest of the three spans, he said.
County commissioners indicated at their July 7 meeting that they may kick in some additional money beyond the $1 million already allocated.
“We want to make this trail useful and successful,” Commissioner John Martin said.
Commissioner Mike Samson said the pedestrian link would be “plum” for the town of New Castle.
“I’m impressed that you’ve stretched yourselves as far as you have” with the funding, Samson said. “It would be a shame if this didn’t transpire.
“We’ve got your back, and we want this to go forward,” he said.
The combined bridge and trail project is being done jointly between the town and Garfield County, though the town is taking the lead in overseeing the project. The Talbott family, which owns Apple Tree Park, has also dedicated part of its property for the trail.
“Both of these projects will make such a big difference for the people to use in this area,” said New Castle Town Administrator Tom Baker. “It’s going to be fabulous.”
— Glenwood Springs Post Independent correspondent Heidi Rice contributed to this report.