Guest opinion: New West Midland Trail a wonderful asset | PostIndependent.com

Guest opinion: New West Midland Trail a wonderful asset

Michael Gamba

Michael Gamba

DETAILS

• The pedestrian bridge spans 120 feet and is 10 feet wide

• The bridge was constructed to allow a future expansion of Midland Avenue to 4 lanes

• The city-constructed portion of the trail is 3,028 feet long

• RFTA’s section of the trail is 1,111 feet long

• The project included 750 feet of retaining walls

• FMLD provided a $375,000 grant for the project

If you go

Grand Opening of the West Midland Trail

• 1 p.m. Thursday, June 15

• West Midland Trail Pedestrian Bridge

Parking in the area is limited, and those attending are encouraged to park at the RFTA Park and Ride on Wulfsohn Road. For those wanting to experience the new trail firsthand, at 12:30 p.m. there will be a community bike ride from City Hall to the pedestrian bridge.

On Thursday, we will celebrate the opening of the West Midland Trail with a ribbon cutting on the pedestrian bridge over Midland Avenue near the whitewater Area. We invite you to join us and be among the first to enjoy this beautiful addition to our city.

As we experience the gorgeous views of the community and the Colorado River from the 120-foot bridge, we will mark the completion of one of the many transportation projects this year that enhance connectivity in Glenwood Springs.

This project was identified as No. 3 on the list of priorities from the 2015 Long-Range Transportation Plan, and it is easy to see why.

Portions of the newly constructed trail that have been unofficially open over the past several months are used heavily. Every day, bicyclists ride and pedestrians walk on the path that connects the Glenwood Meadows shopping area to West Wulfsohn. Already this path has met those goals identified in the 2015 Long-Range Transportation Plan:

• Better connectivity to our larger trail and sidewalk system, including to our shopping areas, vibrant downtown and Glenwood Springs neighborhoods.

• Accessibility for multiple modes of travel.

• Health and economic benefits from visitors and residents choosing to travel to the Community Center, shopping areas and the RFTA bus stops by means other than by automobile.

• Safety: taking cyclists off of the shoulder of Midland Avenue and onto a dedicated multiuse path.

The ADA-accessible West Midland Trail has already become a critical part of our network. With the opening of the new pedestrian bridge that leads to Devereux Road, this completed new trail will provide a safe route for pedestrians and cyclists from Glenwood Springs Middle School to downtown Glenwood.

This trail will be a wonderful asset during the Grand Avenue bridge detour — when reducing car travel during peak periods is critical. For 95 days starting on Aug. 14, we will be working together to achieve a 35 percent reduction in vehicle traffic — about 700 cars an hour — through the city. Riding a bicycle or pedal-assist bicycle on this stretch of trail will be a fast route to work, school and shopping. E-bike usage with the motor engaged will be allowed on local paved and multiuse trails during the detour — including on the West Midland Trail.

For a toolbox of information about the Grand Avenue bridge detour — including lower-stress bicycle route maps, parking maps, tips for bicycle commuting, FAQs and other city resources, go to http://www.cogs.us/detourtoolbox.

I’m proud of our community’s commitment to the continued improvement of our city and this important enhancement to our trail network. And I look forward to celebrating with community members, fellow elected officials and our partners.

This trail and bridge couldn’t have been completed without collaboration. Members of our community helped identify this project as a priority during the formulation of the transportation plan. RFTA completed a section of this new trail. A generous $375,000 Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District grant helped the city of Glenwood Springs bring this project to fruition, and another FMLD grant helped install bicycle-specific signage here and all around town.

If you can’t join us on Thursday, I urge you to take a ride or walk across the new bridge this summer. Invite your friends and out of town guests. Stop by a local restaurant or shop on the way.

I hope to see you out there.

Michael Gamba is the mayor of Glenwood Springs and represents the city’s Ward 4.