LoVa trail update due soon | PostIndependent.com

LoVa trail update due soon

Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Larry Dragon doesn’t think he’ll be alive by the time a long-planned-for trail between Glenwood Springs and the Mesa County line is completed, but he’s quite happy to see the first segment finished after ten years of planning.

Dragon is the executive director of LoVa (Lower Valley Trails Group) which is spearheading the effort to build the 47-mile hiking and biking trail, which he estimates will take decades to complete.

He’s scheduled to give an updated report to the Glenwood Springs City Council at their next meeting on Aug. 7 to explain what has been accomplished on the trail and what the plans are for the future.

Six months after breaking ground, the first phase of the 650-foot segment of the South Canyon Trail from West Glenwood to South Canyon has been completed and is expected to open this fall when the city finishes construction of a bridge over Mitchell Creek.

“The trail will be connecting from West Glenwood Springs behind Dairy Queen as soon as the city gets the bridge built over Mitchell Creek, which they think will be in October,” Dragon said.

The trail segment was made possible by an easement of the West Glenwood Springs Sanitation District.

The vision for the trail is to follow the Colorado River, although the exact route has not been determined. Dragon said LoVa is currently in the midst of discussions with New Castle and Silt officials as to where they would like to see the trail run through their communities.

“Between Glenwood Springs and Parachute, there are a lot of areas that are private property,” Dragon said. “There are so many issues down the road. The idea is to have the towns determine where they would like the trail to run through their town.”

The difficulty of building on the steep terrain of the South Canyon Trail made the cost more than $600,000. However, $250,000 was contributed from the city of Glenwood Springs, $150,000 from the Colorado Department of Transportation and $153,000 from the Colorado State Parks Trails Grants Program.

Because of rising construction costs and the time element involved, there is no way to gauge how much the entire project will cost, but rough estimates have been reported at $93 million.

LoVa hopes to start another section of the trail in the next year with the hopes of getting in on the next cycle of large grant funding in 2010 from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO).

Glenwood Springs city officials involved with the Mitchell Creek bridge project were not available for comment. But even when the bridge is completed, the trail will not connect anywhere for the time being.

“You can go and turn around and come back,” Dragon said. “But it’s not going to get you to New Castle.”

Not yet. The goal is to eventually provide a safe route for walkers and bikers along the Colorado River between the communities.

“But that will take decades,” Dragon said honestly. “I doubt I’ll see the completion of it.”

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