Construction begins on first new section of LoVa trail from West Glenwood in over a decade
First significant trail addition in more than a decade
The first new section of the long-envisioned Lower Valley (LoVa) trail west of Glenwood Springs to be built in more than a decade is finally under construction.
Phase three of the larger project is to include a new 700-foot segment from where trail now ends just beyond Mitchell Creek near the Audi dealership and the West Glenwood Sanitation District treatment plant.
Nicknamed the “Meet Me In The Middle” phase, the trail will extend west from Glenwood Springs, between the north side of the Colorado River and the south side of Interstate 70 heading toward South Canyon.
Due to the proximity of the construction to the interstate, there will be a single right-lane closure for all eastbound traffic on I-70 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the initial stages of construction. The lane closure is expected to wrap up in early May, and the trail portion is to be substantially complete by the end of the summer, LoVa Trail Group Executive Director Jeanne Golay said.
The existing trail is also currently closed to users beyond the Audi dealership.
As envisioned, the LoVa Trail will eventually traverse Garfield County following the I-70 and Colorado River corridor.
“This segment of trail gets us one step closer to South Canyon, and one step closer to one day connecting the communities of the lower Colorado River Valley, by bike and pedestrian trail, to the Roaring Fork Valley,” Golay said in a news release.
The “Meet Me in the Middle” project has been the result of a collaboration between the Town of New Castle, City of Glenwood Springs and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which dedicated a portion of funding approved by voters for the Destination 2040 improvements in 2019.
Funding has also included a first-ever Partnership Grant for $700,000 from the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District (FMLD). Garfield County commissioners also provided additional funds, along with increased contributions from the original project partners to reach the budgeted amount, Golay said.
The project experienced several delays due to the pandemic, permitting complications with CDOT, and cost increases due to inflation and labor shortages, she said. Grant extensions allowed the project to proceed, but then construction bids came in above the project budget.
LoVa then received a large gift from an anonymous donor, which closed the funding gap and kept the project alive.
“We are grateful to the FMLD for their understanding and for sticking with us,” Golay said. “They appreciate the regional significance of the trail, and its positive impact on the quality of life for citizens in western Garfield County.”
The City of Glenwood Springs is managing the trail project, which is being built by Mueller Construction Services, Inc.
Work this week has focused on tree and vegetation removal near the interstate highway, being conducted by subcontractor Earthwise Horticultural.
After the initial lane closure on I-70, most of the work will take place behind a screened fence above the guardrail, with little impact expected to the traveling public, the release states. LoVa plans to have a ribbon-cutting celebration soon after the project is completed, tentatively set for July 31.
LoVa was established as a nonprofit organization in 1999 to partner with local communities from Glenwood Springs to Parachute to seek funding and build the trail one segment at a time, focusing initially on South Canyon where non-motorized travel is now limited to the shoulder of the interstate highway.
“As those communities have revamped their own comprehensive plans to include more trails, it’s natural to try to figure out how then we can all connect to each other, and that’s what LoVa is trying to do,” Golay said in the release. “The key is to unlock South Canyon with a safe, separated path, and then everything opens up beyond that.”
Golay is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a region-wide trail running film festival on Saturday, April 8 at the Ute Theater in Rifle. Besides talking about LoVa’s future and vision, the festival includes a community trail run in the morning at the Grand Hogback Trail System north of Rifle at the Rifle Arch, followed by the film festival at the Ute Theater beginning at 4 p.m. More information can be found at http://www.coloradotrailfest.com.
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