LoVa Trail on the path to federal funding
With support from officials across Colorado, including from former governor John Hickenlooper, the Lower Valley Trail, also known as the LoVa Trail, is among several regional applicants seeking federal funding from the Federal Lands Access Program. The FLAP grant application, submitted earlier this month, could bring in as much as $11 million in federal funding for a project long discussed by official and recreation enthusiasts across the Western Slope.
“We are really hoping to get this one,” LoVa Trails director Jeanne Golay said.
Named on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s “16 in 2016” (a list of highest priority trails where there are currently trail gaps, missing trail segments and unbuilt trails), the LoVa Trail is a proposed trail connecting Glenwood Springs to the western end of the county.
With the planning projected to be completed by the end of 2019, Golay said the FLAP grant would help construct and complete the 8.5 miles segment between Glenwood Springs and New Castle.
Planning for the 8.5 mile segment proved to be difficult due to terrain; however, it is expected to be completely planned by the end of the year. With a plan in place, the next step would be to fund the construction as Golay sees this FLAP grant as a great opportunity for the project.
The Federal Lands Access Program was established to improve transportation facilities that provide access to or are located within federal lands. The 2019 Colorado call for projects is now closed with applications expected to be reviewed in July, according to the website. A short list of projects should come out by September.
“This project is tailor-made for [the FLAP grant] objective,” Golay said.
The LoVa Trail continues to receive support from hikers, mountain bikers and everyday commuters from across the county.
Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes believes a trail from Glenwood Springs to New Castle would be a great way to help connect the entire valley.
“This could be a regional draw,” he said.
He said the project is one of the most important, if not the most important, pedestrian project the city is facing and trying to make happen.
Godes thinks a LoVa trail connecting Glenwood Springs to New Castle (and possibly beyond) could open the region up to new recreation opportunities such as bringing a cross-country bike tour to town.
A nonmotorized trail would link some of the mountain biking trails in town to all the new trails New Castle has been building, which bikers are currently unable to get to without a car.
“This will be great for Western Colorado,” Golay said.
Golay said that anybody who wants to see the project completed can help by letting their elected officials know. She thinks calls to action from local residents and letters of support from local municipalities will really help keep the momentum moving forward for the project.
“We need as much local match as we can get,” she added.
Golay applied to have Gov. Jared Polis come out for a site visit to see the project and hopefully throw his support for it. She said she applied and invited him for a site visit in August, but she won’t know if he can come until later this summer.
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Jonathan Godes will serve another term as the mayor of Glenwood Springs.