Connecting dots a big goal with new 14th St. ped bridge | PostIndependent.com

Connecting dots a big goal with new 14th St. ped bridge

Glenwood Springs' new pedestrian link across the Roaring Fork River is more than just a new way to get from the Midland Avenue side of the river to the main part of town.

For Jeanne Golay, director for the Lower Valley (LoVa) Trail group, it's another key piece to the larger puzzle of creating a better trails network in and around Glenwood Springs and to points beyond.

"It's one more facet of connectivity that makes the whole network of trails in the area that much more robust," Golay said following a dedication ceremony Thursday afternoon.

Golay and her teenage son live in the Midland Avenue neighborhood just across from the new 14th Street pedestrian bridge, so she plans to make regular use of the new span.

She's also hoping it might help lead to some more funding for the LoVa trail project to complete the long-envisioned trail link into South Canyon west of Glenwood and on through western Garfield County.

"Connections like this make it easier to make a case for grants and other funds for things like the LoVa and other trails outside the city," she said.

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Ash Stolley, a ninth-grade student at Glenwood Springs High School located just up the hill on the east side of the new bridge, said the bridge will come in handy for students.

"We have a bike club, and this will make it easier to get across the river and up to Red Mountain and places like that," he said. "I probably won't use it to get to school, because I live on the south end of town, but for people from other parts of town it will help."

City officials gathered with contractors including Gould Construction, representatives from the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District and several dozen community members to dedicate the new foot bridge on an unseasonably warm, sunny afternoon.

"This is an important connection for our community, and one of the many projects the city has been working on to create better connectivity during the upcoming detour of the Grand Avenue bridge," Mayor Michael Gamba said.

Residents will now have another option to driving to get to points across the river, including the two grocery stores. That will be especially important during the traffic congestion that's likely to result when the detour is in effect, Gamba said.

Glenwood Springs police officers, who are now using electric bicycles as part of the police department's bike patrol program, can also use the bridge to get to any emergencies along Midland more quickly when traffic is snarled, he said.

Longer term, "We believe the bridge will permanently provide multimodal access in the community," Gamba said.

The city is working on a plan to give the new bridge an official name, and may work with the schools to have a naming contest.

For now, it is suggested that use of the bridge and the pathway leading to it from Coach Miller Drive behind the high school be limited to daytime hours. Lighting and landscaping are being installed, but the project won't be completed until late spring.

Construction of the $2 million bridge and trail was made possible in part by a $350,000 Garfield FMLD grant.

"This is the perfect example of the type of project that our board likes to fund," said Gregg Rippy, who chairs the FMLD board. "It's challenging to select the projects that are going to affect the most people in the community. This one is clearly going to impact a lot of citizens and tourists."

The new bridge makes use of part of the old Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge that was removed last spring to make way for the new pedestrian bridge that's part of the larger Grand Avenue bridge replacement project. City officials had initially wanted to reuse the entire span, but after its removal inspectors discovered corrosion that would have limited the life of the bridge structure.

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