Carbondale’s Red Hill area gets boost from Garfield commissioners
Red Hill improvements are moving forward with Garfield County’s help, and the new parking lot and road construction could be completed in 2019.
Garfield County commissioners unanimously approved $200,000 for the town of Carbondale and the Aspen Valley Land Trust Monday to help improvements to the popular trail, including parking expansion and more direct access to the county road.
The town will submit the technical plans, with drainage, grades and road alignment details, to the Colorado Department of Transportation in early February, Town Manager Jay Harrington said.
“It’s always wonderful on one of these projects when all the pieces actually come together,” Harrington said.
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The Carbondale Board of Trustees included $50,000 in the 2019 budget for the gravel parking lot, and $25,000 for improvements to the trail system, which includes hiking and mountain biking trails, and iconic views of Mount Sopris and Mushroom Rock.
Suzanne Stevens, executive director of the AVLT, said Garfield County’s contribution makes it the second-largest contributor to the Red Hill trail system improvements.
Two of the three new trails have been built, and the third will be completed when the weather improves. The current trailhead, several hundred yards up the gravel road, will be closed once the new trails are built.
As a memo to the commissioners said, “there have been concerns for many years related to the number of pedestrians and bicyclists who use CR 107 to access the current trailhead.”
Road 107 itself will be straightened to smooth out the approach to the intersection with Highway 82.
“The design of the road is ongoing,” Harrington said. “There was survey work done last week, and we’re hoping to have a permit in front of CDOT early February.”
The road will have a slightly steeper grade going up to the nearest neighborhood on the hill, but it will allow for greater traffic stacking at the intersection.
In the process of designing the road improvements, a complex intersection with underpasses or flyovers were considered. But Harrington said those likely will not be feasible on the current budget.
“At the most, we might see a pedestrian crossing on 107 to take folks from the east side to the west side,” he said.
Once built, the new parking lot will more than double the parking capacity. “Our plan is to regulate that for a three- or four-hour parking limit, so we don’t end up with that turning into another carpool lot,” Harrington said.
Tom Jankovsky thanked Stevens for her efforts in bringing the funding together. “It was more than the community of Carbondale could have done by themselves,” Jankovsky said.
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The coronavirus threat delayed the opening of developed campgrounds in the Roaring Fork, Fryingpan and Crystal valleys. The Forest Service will phase them back in by June 12.