New Atkinson Trail officially opened |

New Atkinson Trail officially opened

Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Cyclists and pedestrians have been checking out the new Atkinson Trail for several weeks now. The trail link along the Roaring Fork River in south Glenwood had its official opening on Wednesday.

“This is a significant addition to our city, and probably the final portion of the trail system we’ll see in Glenwood Springs, at least for several years,” Mayor Matt Steckler said at a grand opening ceremony on the new trail below the 27th Street Bridge.

“I hope the community comes out and enjoys this nice amenity,” he said.

Steckler’s mayoral predecessor, Bruce Christensen, has been involved in the city’s trail planning for more than 20 years, both as a former mayor and city councilman, and as a longtime member of the city’s River Commission.

“I feel so strongly that trails are not just a way to get from one place to another, but that they are also a connector of people and our neighbors,” Christensen said.

“We didn’t just build a trail, we built an enhancement to our community,” he said.

The newly completed trail segment extends 1.4 miles along the west bank of the Roaring Fork River from the Glenwood Park area to the 27th Street bridge. The total project cost was $3.1 million.

It’s been part of Glenwood Springs’ trails master plan since 1991, and has involved several years of negotiations with private property owners to secure the easement.

The first section of the trail below the Mountain Market opened last fall, and the city contracted with Gould Construction to complete the remainder of the trail.

The design itself involved working with property owners along the river to make the trailway as aesthetically pleasing as possible.

“We’re extremely pleased with it,” said Richard Todd, president of the Sunlight Racquet Club Condominiums, of a terraced rock retaining wall between the trail and their homes.

“We had lots of discussions with [Glenwood Springs Community Development Director Andrew McGregor] to try to get what we wanted to see there, and they’ve done an excellent job,” Todd said.

Another riverfront resident, Richard Lyon, credited Gould Construction for engineering the trail in a way that fits the natural environment.

“I walk the trail a lot, and I really want to commend the city and Gould for their exemplary work,” Lyon said. “The way they designed the rock wall is above and beyond beautiful.”

The Glenwood Springs River Commission has overseen the implementation of the rivertrails master plan, and a major focus in recent years has been the Atkinson Trail, commission chairman Jeremy Heiman said.

As funding for new trails has declined along with other city sales tax revenues, the focus is now on future trail planning and other work to spruce up Glenwood Springs’ riverfronts, he said.

That will include an annual riverbank cleanup along the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers, which took place in August.

“We’re also doing a ‘way-finding’ project, looking at ways to get people and bicyclists from Two Rivers Park to the Glenwood Canyon bike path,” Heiman said.

The rivertrails plan came about in the late 1990s when city voters approved a dedicated portion of a special recreation sales tax to fund trail construction, including the Rio Grande Trail segment through Glenwood Springs.

Several trail links included in the master plan are still being evaluated or have been altered over the years.

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