Rio Grande Trail getting a new bridge across Woody Creek |

Rio Grande Trail getting a new bridge across Woody Creek

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Rio Grande Trail users could see a new bridge crossing over Woody Creek this summer if all goes according to plan.

The Pitkin County Open Space and Trails board of trustees on Tuesday chose a design for the bridge, to be placed across the creek where a trestle once served the former railroad corridor. The rails are gone and the popular Rio Grande Trail between Aspen and Glenwood Springs now exists in their place.

The new span is part of the second phase of a project that involves paving the bike trail through the Woody Creek area. Some of the stretch was paved last year, in conjunction with the construction of a separate, soft-surface trail on an upper bench. A remaining stretch of the trail in Woody Creek is still to be paved, and open space officials hope the bridge can be installed this year, as well.

Currently, the trail makes a jog at the creek and runs alongside Upper River Road as it crosses the water, which flows through a large culvert beneath the roadway. The bridge will return the trail to the original railroad alignment, on a separate crossing from the nearby road. A steep section of the trail just upvalley from the bridge will be softened, as well.

The bridge design has been a matter of discussion with the open space board for months, and it was again this week. It will be a 110-foot, prefabricated span, with a price tag of $275,000 for the structure and abutments.

The board was split between the aesthetics of the chosen bridge and a custom-made option that would cost $11,000 more. Dale Will, open space and trails director, argued for a measure of austerity.

“My personal view is we’re getting carried away with this,” he said.

The bridge will be 14 feet wide to accommodate nordic trail-grooming equipment, adding $75,000 to the cost, Will noted.

And, because the bridge is that wide, the Colorado Department of Transportation required that it be stout enough to hold up an emergency vehicle crossing over it, adding to the cost. CDOT has a say because a $281,000 state grant was used for the overall paving/bridge project.

Prefab bridges of the same style have been used in various other local projects, including the Crystal River Trail and the Brush Creek Trail.

While some board members expressed a preference for the look of the prefab bridge over the custom one, board member Howie Mallory pondered the reaction of Woody Creek residents.

“There will be a number of people who hate either design,” predicted Commissioner Michael Owsley. “You know you’re not going to please everybody.”

A section of the Rio Grande between Woody Creek and Aspen will remain unpaved, but open space officials are preparing to start a discussion about what to do with that segment. It will be the only unpaved section between Aspen and Glenwood Springs.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User