Rio Grande up for rail-to-trail Hall of Fame | PostIndependent.com
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Rio Grande up for rail-to-trail Hall of Fame

This photo shows the closure gates on the Rio Grande Trail at Rock Bottom Ranch in Basalt.

The Rio Grande Trail is one of three U.S. rail-trail locations nominated for induction into the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Hall of Fame. Last year, the Rio Grande Trail came in second in the voting.

This year, the Rio Grande will compete against Nevada's Historic Railroad Trail and Louisiana's Tammany Trace to be the next Rail-Trail Hall of Fame inductee, a recognition that highlights the value and excellence of the trail locally and nationwide. The winner will be announced July 19 after a public voting period from July 12-16.

Votes may be cast at railstotrails.org/our-work/trail-promotion/rail-trail-hall-of-fame.

The Rio Grande Trail was selected by RTC as a Hall of Fame nominee based on merits such as scenic value, high use, trail and trailside amenities, historical significance, excellence in management and maintenance and community connections.

"All three of the trails were nominated because they are the cream of the crop when it comes to trail options across the country," said Keith Laughlin, RTC president. "It's up to the users to show their support and pride for the trails and to help make their favorite the 31st rail-trail in the Hall of Fame."

Hall of Fame inductees receive national publicity, trail signage and coverage in Rails to Trails magazine. As the largest trails organization in America, representing a community of more than 160,000 members and supporters and more than 850,000 trail users, RTC started recognizing Hall of Fame winners in 2007. If selected, the Rio Grande Trail would join the 30 previous winners, including last year's Hudson Valley Trail Network.

More information about the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame and the opportunity to vote can be found on RTC's website. Voting is now live, starting Wednesday.

The 42-mile Rio Grande Trail was once a rail line, which was built in the Aspen Branch of the historic Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. Train operations in the corridor ceased in phases between the 1960s and the mid-1990s. In 1997, the right of way corridor was purchased with a combination of funding by local governments, Great Outdoors Colorado, Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, and the Colorado Department of Transportation.

This presented an opportunity to explore both transportation and recreation solutions to Highway 82 congestion and trail connectivity challenges in the Roaring Fork Valley. In 2001, RFTA was formed and thus a dedicated funding source for transit and trails was created. RFTA now manages and maintains the trail corridor in conjunction with Pitkin County Open Space and Trails.

For more information on the Rio Grande Trail, call Brett Meredith at 970-384-4975 or visit http://www.riograndetrail.com.