New planning grant sought for South Canyon path
Glenwood Springs is ready to tap into state trail planning money made available when the long-envisioned Lower Valley Trail made Gov. John Hickenlooper’s “16 in 2016” trails initiative list earlier this year.
City Council, with support coming from Garfield County commissioners Tuesday, will go after a $75,000 Great Outdoors Colorado “Connect Initiative” grant to complete the now disjointed LoVa Trail between West Glenwood and South Canyon.
The planning grant would be focused on a key segment of the trail envisioned to extend from Glenwood Springs to the Storm King Memorial Trailhead at Canyon Creek, and for another 40-plus miles west along the Colorado River corridor to the Mesa County line.
The LoVa trail is viewed as a key link in the region’s existing trail network that would enhance recreation opportunities and provide a safe transportation alternative for bicyclists.
Although first envisioned in the late 1990s, to date only two dead-end sections of the South Canyon trail have been completed at a cost of about $1.6 million, including some state grant support.
Remaining as part of that segment is a rugged, 1.8-mile stretch sandwiched between the river and Interstate 70. Past estimates gave a price tag of roughly $4.4 million to build just that section, and construction money has been slow to come.
A big boost came last January when Hickenlooper’s “16 in 2016” list identified 16 key trail gaps, unbuilt trails or missing links across the state that were given priority for planning and construction grants in the coming few years.
Also on the list is the envisioned 74-mile-long trail from Carbondale to Crested Butte, for which Pitkin County is seeking a $200,000 Connect planning grant.
Recently, New Castle officials took the lead in going after a $175,100 Transportation Alternatives Program grant, which is also offered through the state, to begin designing the 2.4-mile stretch of the LoVa trail between Canyon Creek and South Canyon.
“The section of trail that is the focus of this grant request would connect West Glenwood Springs to recreational facilities in South Canyon along the Colorado River corridor and would tie into planned facilities from New Castle,” Garfield County commissioners note in a letter of support for the Glenwood Springs grant request.
“This section of paved bicycle and pedestrian trail is among the most complicated and costly section of trail within the LoVa corridor,” the county’s letter states. “… In addition to the LoVa trail providing access to public land and eventually the town of New Castle, the county has also supported a South Canyon Trails plan.”
The Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association has developed a soft trails master plan that would include a network of dirt paths on a combination of city and BLM-owned land in South Canyon, with possible a connection east onto Red Mountain. A hard-surface trail link between Glenwood and South Canyon would lessen the need for parking in South Canyon to accommodate trail users.
As part of the governor’s trails initiative, GOCO dedicated $10 million this year for the “Connect Initiative.” Each of the 16 priority projects identified by the state are eligible to apply for money through that program.
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Over 75,000 hikers visited Hanging Lake during this year’s peak season. Via signage, the city hopes to point more of those hikers also in the direction of downtown Glenwood Springs.