Trail activists share vision with GOCO
It was “showtime” Tuesday as local trail advocates and government officials escorted Great Outdoors Colorado board members and staff on a tour of the proposed Lower Valley Colorado River Trail.The Lower Valley Trails Group is asking GOCO for $4.7 million to help pay for roughly five miles of nonmotorized trail construction through South Canyon west of Glenwood Springs, and nearly two miles of trail along the Colorado River in Rifle.That request warranted a visit from seven members of GOCO’s 17-member board, including Colorado Sen. Norma Anderson, co-majority leader of the Senate, and GOCO executive director John Swartout. LoVa executive director Larry Dragon and LoVa board members David Hamilton, Mike Sawyer, Jeanne Golay and Bruce Christensen accompanied GOCO on the tour. Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert met the group in Rifle, and Garfield County Commissioner Trési Houpt joined the group at the end of the tour, which ended at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood. Regionally, the long-term plans for LoVa’s trail are to eventually connect West Glenwood Springs to Parachute through a trail system for bicycles, pedestrians, and in some portions, horses.
Statewide, those plans would coincide with an ongoing project to create a continuous trail from Denver to Grand Junction. LoVa’s grant application is one of 21 project finalists that GOCO is considering for funding this year.”It’s very competitive to get to this point,” said GOCO deputy director Diane Gansuer. This year, 68 concept papers were submitted, but only 21 applications are being considered for large grant funding. A statewide benefit
After boarding a RFTA bus in Glenwood, the group traveled to the Rifle rest area, where they walked a dirt path to the Colorado River to see where the proposed 1.6-mile trail would go. From there, the group traveled upvalley, stopping first at Canyon Creek, the trailhead for the South Canyon portion of the LoVa trail, and later, at the South Canyon Bridge exit.In South Canyon, the group was met by Ralph Trapani, Jeanne Golay’s husband, and self-described “trails advocate and recovering CDOT engineer.” Trapani was project manager for the four-laning of Glenwood Canyon and the upper portions of Highway 82 before leaving CDOT two years ago. Trapani, who had biked from Glenwood on Interstate 70 – the only way for bicyclists to travel from Glenwood to west Garfield County – told the group “this is a challenging section of highway. There are substandard shoulders here that are dangerous for bicyclists.” He added that Golay, a former Olympic bicycle racer, crashed on her bike on 1-70 in South Canyon a couple months ago, after she got caught up in the rumble strips which line the interstate’s shoulders. “This is one of the worst choke points in the state,” he says. “It causes a mobility constraint.”
LoVa’s Mike Sawyer added that on a recent bicycle trip over Vail Pass he was shocked at how many people he met who were on multi-day bike trips, from Frisco to Glenwood, and even from Denver to Glenwood.”But for everyone I met, the adventure stopped in Glenwood,” Sawyer said. “The interstate here deters them from going on. Citizens from all over the state, and not just locally, are going to benefit from adding this trail system.”Garfield County and CDOT have already committed funds and support for the project. LoVa has also received support from the cities of Glenwood and Rifle. GoCo will make its final decision on grant recipients on Dec. 1. Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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