Riverview School’s new ‘Safe Routes to School’ ribbon-cutting at Hardwick Bridge planned for Friday | PostIndependent.com

Riverview School’s new ‘Safe Routes to School’ ribbon-cutting at Hardwick Bridge planned for Friday

Post Independent staff report

A ribbon-cutting event for the new Riverview Safe Routes to School “Hardwick Bridge Trail” is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at the old Hardwick Bridge near Westbank, which has been refurbished as a pedestrian bridge.

The new trail connection provides a dedicated paved trail connecting the Ironbridge and Westbank residential neighborhoods to the Rio Grande Trail, and ultimately to the pre-K-8 Riverview School, a news release states.

Construction on the trail and bridge project began in June 2021 and concluded in May. 

“We are excited to have a safe route to the Riverview School,” said Roaring Fork Schools Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gatlin, who managed the project for the school district. “Students will now be able to safely walk or bike to school while separated from vehicle traffic.”

In 2018, the Roaring Fork School District partnered with Garfield County and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority to begin planning for a pedestrian and bike path to connect the nearby residential areas to the newly constructed Riverview School.

Once a route was identified, the plan was submitted for a Colorado Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School grant, which was awarded. Additional grant funding totaling $1.6 million project came from the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District, and the state’s Transportation Alternative and Revitalizing Main Street programs.

Garfield County commissioners agreed to contribute $1.3 million in direct funding and in-kind support to build the trail and refurbish the bridge. The county Road and Bridge Department made driveway crossing improvements and built the 1,500-foot section of the trail in the RFTA right-of-way connecting County Road 154 to the existing Rio Grande Trail.

“This complex project took a tremendous amount of teamwork and collaboration,” Gatlin said. “We couldn’t be more thankful to Garfield County and RFTA for their partnership on this important project.”

Project lead for the county was Deputy County Manager Fred Jarman.

“Rehabilitating the historic iron Hardwick Bridge, which is owned by the county, and placing it back into public service became an important centerpiece of this trail project,” Jarman said in the release. 

According to historical documents, the Hardwick Bridge was originally built in 1890 when county commissioners relocated the former Cooper Avenue Bridge over the Colorado River south of Glenwood Springs to create a passage across the Roaring Fork River in the area. It was placed on Hardwick Family Ranch, from which the bridge derives its name. The bridge was rebuilt in 1923.

Jarman said the new trail not only provides a safe route for students to get to school, it’s an important regional trail connection to the Rio Grande Trail for the public.

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