Glenwood receives LoVa trail planning grant |

Glenwood receives LoVa trail planning grant

A dead-end section of the LoVa bike trail at South Canyon.
John Stroud | Post Independent

A newly awarded state trails planning grant will help Glenwood Springs and the Lower Valley (LoVa) Trails Group study a new route connecting West Glenwood to the South Canyon area as part of the larger LoVa trail project.

The city was awarded one of 11 grants Thursday in the first round of the new Great Outdoors Colorado’s Connect Initiative Trail Planning Grant program.

The $75,000 grant will allow the city to hire a consultant to evaluate right-of-way options and environmental impacts to build a 2.6-mile section of paved trail on the south side of the Colorado River, instead of between the river and Interstate 70 as had long been envisioned.

Preliminary design and cost estimates for two pedestrian bridges to allow trail users to get back and forth across the river would also be part of the planning effort. The city will cover the remaining $32,000 in planning costs.

The grant was one of two awarded for area trail projects at the GOCO board meeting in Denver on Thursday. As expected, Pitkin County received $100,000 to begin planning the Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail.

Both trail projects were included among Gov. John Hickenlooper’s “16 in 2016” priority trails earlier this year, with the goal to design and complete trails where there are currently gaps and to improve nonmotorized trail links across the state.

LoVa was established in 1999 with the goal of eventually building a paved trail along the Colorado River corridor from Glenwood Springs to Mesa County.

To date, only two dead-end sections of the South Canyon portion of the trail have been built at a cost of about $1.6 million. One extends a short distance from West Glenwood across Mitchell Creek, and the other extends about a quarter mile back toward Glenwood from the South Canyon bridge.

Numerous attempts to fund and build the middle section have been unsuccessful, mostly due to engineering costs to construct a trail along the steep slope between the interstate and the river.

So, the city is now working with the LoVa group to build a pedestrian bridge across the river in West Glenwood to the city’s Chatfield property, where the wastewater treatment plant is located. Ideally, a new trail link would extend from there to the South Canyon recreation area where a network of dirt trails for mountain biking is being planned.

From that point, a pedestrian bridge would be built back across the river to a future trail following the river and I-70 into western Garfield County.

The city and LoVa have been collaborating on the project with the county, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association and the town of New Castle.

The city plans to pursue additional grant money for trail construction.

Meanwhile, Pitkin County will provide a $200,000 match for its grant to plan the Carbondale to Crested Butte trail, following part of the West Elk Scenic Byway. The grant will allow planning, environmental and engineering studies to begin for the approximately 83-mile trail, according to a news release from the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails program.

Planning for the trail will take about a year and include the public in both Pitkin and Gunnison counties. Pitkin County residents can weigh in on the project at open houses scheduled for Jan. 12 at the Church at Redstone and Jan. 18 at Carbondale Town Hall. Both events will take place from 5-7 p.m.

GOCO awarded a total of $1 million worth of trail planning grants. The Connect Initiative will invest $30 million over three years in closing trail gaps across the state, according to a GOCO news release.

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