Lower Valley trail takes its first step in Glenwood Springs
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The first phase of a long-term goal to build a trail from Glenwood Springs to the Mesa-Garfield county line via Interstate 70 was officially inaugurated Tuesday.
A group of about 11 people ” which included Garfield County commissioners John Martin and Tresi Houpt and county, city and state personnel ” broke ground on the new 650-foot South Canyon Trail in West Glenwood Springs.
It is a humble beginning for an ambitious trail out of Glenwood Springs and across much of Garfield County, said Larry Dragon, executive director of the Lower Valley Trails Group.
“This is a first step in a dream that is going to be the Lower Valley (LoVa) trail,” Dragon said. “The LoVa trail eventually will be a 47-mile trail starting from right here and heading 47 miles to the west all the way to the Mesa County line.”
One of the biggest goals for the project is to bring the trail out five miles to Canyon Creek so that people who want to commute on bikes from the west of Glenwood Springs don’t have to deal with Interstate 70 traffic, Dragon said.
“There is no alternative road or trail,” Dragon said.
Dragon said the initial idea for the trail sprang into the minds of local residents about nine years ago. One of the purposes of the LoVa trail is to connect it with a proposed trail in Mesa County and Glenwood Springs’ city trails.
The South Canyon Trail is under construction on the south side of the West Glenwood Springs Sanitation District just above the Colorado River. A bridge over Mitchell Creek, which the city will design and build, will connect the South Canyon Trail to the city’s trails.
Those city trails will feed bikers and runners onto the still-under-construction Rio Grande Trail, which will run all the way to Aspen, and to trails through Glenwood Canyon to Eagle County, Dragon said.
The South Canyon Trail is designed by Schmueser Gordon Meyer, an engineering firm based out of Glenwood Springs. It will be built by American Civil Constructors and is expected to cost about $630,000. Completion of the 650-foot trail is expected around June 1.
Costs for the project are high because the trail has to cover some rugged terrain, Dragon said.
“That is a very, very steep section,” Dragon said. “You have to build big retaining walls. That is why the cost is so high.”
Dragon said Garfield County has chipped in $430,000 to the project, while the city of Glenwood Springs has contributed another $250,000. The Lower Valley Trails Group has also received $150,000 from the Colorado Department of Transportation and another $153,000 from the Colorado State Parks State Trails Grants Program.
Andrew McGregor, Glenwood Springs’ community development director, said he was struck that the project was driven by “local citizens” over a such a long period of time.
“To me, that is the remarkable thing, that people will spend nine years to get here,” he said after the groundbreaking.
Jeanne Golay is one of those who has pushed the trail forward. She is a member of the Lower Valley Trails Group and wrote the group’s first grant application to CDOT for their proposed trail about nine years ago.
Golay said those years have been a “roller-coaster” ride because of escalating constructions costs and other challenges in moving their dream for the trail to reality.
“It is a historic day,” she said.
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State department of transportation crews are well on their way to clearing Highway 82 to Independence Pass, which should open on schedule May 27 at noon.