River Trail gets $1.4m GOGO grant
Money will be used to fund northern extension to Oxbow

River Trail gets $1.4m GOGO grant

A $1.4 million grant from Great Outdoors Colorado will help fund the Animas River Trail northern extension from Memorial Park to Oxbow./File photo

Missy Votel - 10/05/2017

The Animas River Trail just got a little greener. Great Outdoors Colorado announced last week that the City of Durango was awarded nearly $1.4 million for completion of the trail’s northern extension. The River Trail was among five trail projects across the state that were awarded a total of $9 million.

“We’re really, really excited,” City Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz said Wednesday. “This award is a huge benefit to the community to allow us to move forward with this project.”

The 1-mile section, which will extend from Memorial Park, on the east side of the Animas River near E. 3rd Avenue, to Oxbow Park, on the west side of the river along Animas View Drive, is still in the design phase, Metz said. When finished, it will entail a 10-foot wide concrete trail as well as a bridge over the river near Memorial Park that will connect to an overpass at 32nd Street. The entire project is expected to cost $7.8 million, the city’s share of which will be paid from the half-cent parks and open space sales tax. The city has already set aside $3 million for the trail extension in previous budgets.

Construction will be done in phases, and the City has hosted a series of neighborhood meetings for the section from Animas City Park, north of 32nd Street, to 36th Street, where the trail will cross the railroad tracks. “It’s a pretty tight corridor, so we’ve been spending a lot of time working with the rail-road and private property owners,” she said.

After crossing 36th Street, the trail will stay on the east side of the tracks all the way to Oxbow Park. It will use a trail easement granted to the City by the Durango & Silverton Railroad.

Metz said construction on the trail will likely not begin until 2018 although bids for the Animas City Park segment could go out late this year. As more progress is made on design of the additional segments, the City will host more community meetings. “Right now, we are trying to work directly with adjacent property owners,” she said.

The third and final phase, crossing the river and 32nd Street, will likely not be funded until 2019 and is expected to cost close to $3.5 million. In the interim, trail users are advised to continue using the 32nd Street Bridge.

In other exciting parks news, the City expects to break ground on improvements at Oxbow Park next year, including a parking area, access and a river put-in. Metz said the project is expected to take two years and cost $2.2 million. Part of that money is appropriated in the City’s 2018 budget, but more will need to be set aside in the 2019 budget as well. Funds for Oxbow also come from the City’s dedicated half-cent sales tax.

The Animas River Trail grant was part of GOCO’s “Connect Initiative,” which started in 2016 with the mission to invest $30 million over four years to close trail gaps and create safe access to the outdoors.

Other projects funded this year as part of the initiative include: the Peaks to Plains Trail through Clear Creek Canyon; a new trail through Idaho Springs’ historic district; 2.25 miles of trail in Montrose as well as an underpass at Highway 550; and a trail in Grand Junction to connect the town to the popular Lunch Loops and Three Sisters area outside of town.

GOCO is funded by the Colorado Lottery. Since being created in 1992, it has helped fund more than 5,000 projects.