LoVa Trail gets another boost with $500,000 grant from state parks | PostIndependent.com

LoVa Trail gets another boost with $500,000 grant from state parks

A project to connect New Castle and Glenwood Springs with a non-motorized route via the still theorized Lower Valley Trail moved another step closer to reality recently.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced that it has awarded $500,000 to the LoVa Trail project.

While it won’t fund the entire project, the new section of trail will add 1.65 miles along the south side of the Colorado River with a bridge, rock mitigation and an underpass to connect New Castle to Canyon Creek.

The grant, through the Colorado Beautiful Trails Grant Program, is matched with $30,000 from New Castle, $20,000 from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, and $100,000 from Glenwood Springs for a total of $650,000 for the construction of the trail.

“We are definitely going in the right direction,” said New Castle Mayor Art Riddle. “There’s enthusiasm up and down the valley for this.”

Special Projects Director for New Castle Greg Russi, who’s also a former LoVa board member and wrote the successful grant application with CPW, said he’s excited for all the opportunities this single-track soft trail could bring to New Castle and Canyon Creek residents by the end of 2019.

LoVa Trail Group director Jeanne Golay said the $650,000 will be used for three components of the trail segment from 335 Road at River Bend to Canyon Creek. While it doesn’t have designated trail, 335 Road connects through to New Castle.

Golay said that chipping away with little parts of the project like this will hopefully bring the overall price tag down. She added that the grant money will be used for several components of the LoVa Trail segment, including rockfall mitigation and bridge work.

Golay hopes that by 2019 a resident of New Castle will be able to walk or ride a bike to Canyon Creek along the route and vice versa.

She said the next phase of the project will be to establish a trail alongside 335 Road.

As far as the overall project is concerned, both bookends from New Castle to Glenwood Springs will have completed designs by the end of this month. The middle segment, from South Canyon to Canyon Creek, remains the most challenging and may take more time to design.

“I think we are gaining momentum,” Golay said. “It’s a powerful demonstration of regional support for the Lova Trail,” she said of Glenwood Springs’ $100,000 pledge for this portion. “It’s forward thinking. Not just their city limits and borders.”

RFTA Planning Director David Johnson said that, as part RFTA’s 7A ballot initiative that was approved Nov. 6, a total of $2 million will be earmarked for the construction of the full length of trail, on top of the $20,000 committed for the western portion of the project.

“We’re committed to [the LoVa Trail],” he explained.

He noted that RFTA already owns and operates the Rio Grande Trail from Glenwood Springs to Pitkin County, which is used for all sorts of recreation uses. He said it’s hoped that the LoVa Trail will one day be an extension of that.

“It’s been a consistent priority for New Castle and Glenwood Springs, so it remains an important priority for us,” Johnson added.

azorn@citizentelegram.com