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Atkinson Canal Trail costs are too high

Things don’t really add up when it comes to the Atkinson Canal Trail project.

To start with, $4.4 million for a one-mile-long bike trail is a bit pricey, to say the least.

Secondly, the threat of condemnation of residents’ property for a bike trail seems more than a little extreme.



The bike trail is already moving toward the first phase, but we have to say that this is one project that needs a stop sign immediately.

Right now Glenwood Springs City Council has agreed (with a 6-1 vote) to proceed with an $800,000 soft trail (no pavement) for the southern part. The entire trail will go from the Sunlight Bridge at 27th Street, along the Roaring Fork River past the Cardiff Bridge, finishing near the Mountain Market by Threemile Creek.



Anytime a community can become more trail friendly, it’s a good thing. A trail along the river would be nice, but to say that $4.4 million for a little more than 1 mile makes sense simply doesn’t make sense.

Even if the number of property owners is low and they are only looking at a sliver of their land being impacted, it still doesn’t seem right to confiscate their property.

The city needs to acquire easements from property owners to proceed with this trail. Negotiations are now ongoing; however, the city will not be purchasing land, the negotiations are based on what steps will be taken to limit the impact on those property owners. Part of the $4.4 million includes possibly constructing retaining walls or other mitigation items along the trail.

Eminent domain is a drastic step to acquire easements, and one that should be reserved as a last resort or to be used for projects that promote the greater good of a community.

Yes, this trail will be used by countless residents, but does a one-mile bike trail promote the greater good of this community?

Voters agreed in 1998 to use funds to build river trails. This was one of the projects; that ballot measure and the use of these funds are good until 2018, but that doesn’t mean that the city can’t put it back onto a current ballot for another vote, allowing current voters to say how the city of Glenwood Springs spends its money.

We say the project needs to be rethought. Trail construction is not cheap, and that cost will continue to rise, but it seems that $4.4 million should go farther than one mile.

With the recent completion of the Rio Grande Trail and a trail that goes across the Cardiff Bridge, there are trail alternatives.

By comparison, the Rio Grande Trail ” which, granted, was a fairly easy trail to construct ” reportedly cost $1.9 million from Glenwood to the Colorado Mountain College turnoff, and a total of $12 million for the entire 33 miles.

We want trails, but this trail is too expensive, and anytime there’s the possibility of eminent domain being called into action, things need to be looked at more closely.

The Atkinson Canal Trail project needs a stop sign.

There needs to be more discussion and serious consideration given to putting the issue back onto the ballot, so the current voters can decide.

This is one time when one mile needs a longer look.


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