South Canyon Trail: It’s a go! | PostIndependent.com
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South Canyon Trail: It’s a go!

Donna Gray

It’s a go! The dream of the Lower Valley Trails Group – a biking and hiking trail from West Glenwood Springs through South Canyon – got a $1,253,175 shot in the arm Wednesday from Great Outdoors Colorado. Although it was a fraction of the $4.7 million originally requested, and requires $500,000 in matching funds, it will give LoVa the boost it needs to begin design and construction of about five miles of trail.”We are thrilled to receive this grant. We are very pleased that GOCO views the South Canyon Trial project as a high priority of statewide importance,” said LoVa board member Jeanne Golay. “This project will result in improved quality of life for all area residents by providing a safe alternative transportation connection from western Garfield County to Glenwood Springs. Many thanks to the elected officials who supported LoVa throughout the grant process, and the many volunteers who have worked hard to secure this grant.”Golay, a former Olympic cyclist, is married to Ralph Trapani, formerly CDOT’s project manager for the four-laning of Glenwood Canyon and the upper portions of Highway 82 before leaving CDOT two years ago.”We’re very excited,” said board member Mike Sawyer, a Glenwood Springs attorney. “It’s not quite all we hoped, but it’s a start.”LoVa’s grant plan is to construct a trail from West Glenwood Springs to the Mesa County line west of Parachute along the Colorado River. The first segment of that trail, and the most expensive to complete, will be through the narrow canyon just west of Glenwood Springs to the Canyon Creek Interstate 70 interchange.According to the terms of the grant, LoVa must complete the 5.3-mile trail segment between West Glenwood Springs and South Canyon in three years. The trail will be constructed in Colorado Department of Transportation right of way and will be sandwiched between the highway and the river.”Because the canyon is so narrow (there) it’s an expensive project,” Sawyer said.LoVa has estimated the trail segment from West Glenwood to South Canyon will cost about $1.79 million and the second half, from South Canyon to Canyon Creek, $1.57 million, Sawyer said.Garfield County has committed $35,000 for 2005 for LoVa’s operations costs, Sawyer said, and also has promised $150,000 over three years as matching funds for the grant. CDOT has committed $166,000 for fiscal year 2005.The group is also planning to mount a capital campaign to help pay for the trail, Sawyer said.County Commissioner John Martin was in Denver Wednesday for GOCO’s announcement of the grant awards from the steps of the capitol.”It’s a great partnership and the beginning of a trail” along the Colorado River, Martin said. “It’s a great step and it’s just the beginning.”Sawyer said the trails group will meet with the county, CDOT and GOCO officials in two weeks to determine the timeline for trail design and construction.”Our goal is to begin designing the trail as soon as possible and complete it by the end of 2006,” he said. The best scenario would be if designs could be completed in the summer of 2005 and construction could begin soon after.”Our commitment to GOCO is to get it done in three years. We hope to do it in two.”What the group did not receive was money to pay for the portion of the trail through Rifle.”We will apply to GOCO in ’05 for the Rifle trail,” Sawyer said. “It was one of the critical things we did not get funded for.”LoVa can go back to GOCO in three years for another grant under its large project grants program, Sawyer said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com


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