Final Rio Grande Trail Connection Topic of Public Scoping

Alternatives for the completion of a hard surface trail into Aspen to be discussed


(Aspen, CO) The final hard surface link to the 42-mile-long Rio Grande Trail into Aspen is the topic of a series of public open houses sponsored by Pitkin County Open Space and Trails in August and September. There are four options being considered for the final four-mile link including repairs to the existing trail to create a sustainable soft surface, adding climbing bike lanes on McLain Flats Road, paving and a soft surface or “dual surface” along the existing Rio Grande Trail alignment between W/J and Stein Park, and dual surface trail to a bridge that would span the Roaring Fork just down valley of the Sanitation Plant connecting to pedestrian systems in the Airport Business Center to Aspen.

“The Rio Grande is the backbone of our trail system and finishing the hard surface connection into Aspen would be the biggest single trail project in the history of the Open Space and Trails Program” said Open Space and Trails Recreation Planner, Lindsey Utter. “We hope the public will become engaged in this effort by attending the Open Houses and giving us feedback and direction,” Utter said.

The first Open House is set for Tuesday, August 7th at the Pitkin County Library from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

A 2011 Visitor Use Survey indicates that a hard surface connection into Aspen is the number one most identified gap in the Open Space and Trails system. According to the Visitor Use Survey interconnections between the Airport Business Center, Rio Grande Trail, Highway 82 Intercept Lot, and Brush Creek Trail were the second most identified gaps.

“We want to discuss with the public four very different ways we’ve considered to solve the final link into town and want to gather their feedback on the alternatives,” Utter said.

There is a significant variation in cost to complete the trail, the most expensive being a dual surface into town along the existing alignment which is estimated to cost upwards of $22 million, a reduced width following the same alignment would cost approximately $4,754,293. The dual surface to a bridge leading into the Airport Business Center is estimated at nearly $6 million, the climbing lanes on McLain Flats Road $4.8 million and the do nothing (sustainable soft surface improvements) alternative is just over $700,000.

In addition to the August 7th Open House in Aspen open houses are scheduled on Tuesday, August 21st at Snowmass Town Council Chambers from 5:30 to 7:30 pm and at Colorado Mountain College on September 21st from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. More information is available at .                    

Posted on Wednesday, July 18, 2012