Talks put rail-corridor trail plans back on schedule | PostIndependent.com
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Talks put rail-corridor trail plans back on schedule

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Plans to try to build a recreation trail on the former railroad corridor south of Glenwood Springs this year are back on track.Talks between the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and Colorado Department of Transportation have put the project back on its previous schedule.Earlier this year, RFTA general manager Dan Blankenship had said a statewide computer conversion within the Colorado Department of Transportation was standing in the way of RFTA getting a contract needed to move forward on the project.Blankenship’s comments, reported in the Post Independent in February, upset local CDOT officials. Joe Elsen, CDOT’s Glenwood-based program engineer, said RFTA didn’t need the contract to design the project, and it was necessary only when it was time to go out for bids. RFTA officials had worried about pushing forward with design without a contract in hand.RFTA and CDOT officials got together to review the situation and see what could be done to move forward this year on the trail.Blankenship said it now appears the project can go out to bid by the end of the month.”Based on that schedule we should be in a pretty good position to get contracts on board and get trail construction going this summer,” he said.Elsen said CDOT has since provided the intergovernmental agreement RFTA will need when it goes out to bid on the project.Blankenship said chances of getting the trail done this year still will be dependent on factors such as the weather and the response RFTA gets from bidders, but he’s hopeful work can be completed this year.Glenwood Mayor Bruce Christensen, also a RFTA board member, welcomed news that the trail might not be delayed after all.”I’m pretty optimistic at this point that both CDOT and RFTA are pulling together to make it happen,” he said.He thinks RFTA’s board helped things along by making clear it didn’t want bureaucratic hurdles delaying the trail’s construction.”They felt like this was an important leg of the trail system that needed to be completed as soon as possible,” he said.RFTA’s plan for this year is to build a trail between the Colorado Mountain College turnoff at Highway 82 and 23rd Street in Glenwood.Christensen is particularly concerned about getting a trail built between the Buffalo Valley Inn and the Westbank turnoff. Currently for bicyclists, there is no paved alternative to heavily driven Highway 82 along that stretch.Blankenship said CDOT officials were “kind of blindsided” by the article about the trail delay, which was not his intent. He said RFTA takes “full responsibility” for not adequately communicating to CDOT the importance of the project and finding out how it might be kept on schedule. He also credited CDOT officials for their efforts.”They said, ‘Gee, we just need to sit down and really figure this out. We think this might still be doable,'” Blankenship said.Said Elsen, “We work pretty closely with RFTA, and we try to help those guys out as much as possible. … We enjoy the relationship that we’ve had with RFTA and look forward to continuing that.”Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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