Four ways to cross a river
Dear Durango City Council,
Congratulations on your latest addition to the Green Machine – Oxbow Park. Finally, Durango will have yet another river put in, even more acres of trailhead parking and the long-awaited, much-needed, extension of the River Trail. Only one challenge remains. The new trail and the existing trail run on opposite sides of the river. The two trails must be joined. But how?
Following are a few methods to implement Phase 2 of the Animas River Trail to Oxbow Extension, aka how to transport Durango’s finest physical specimens, bikers, hikers and their dogs, from one side of the river to the other. Choose one and let city government get back to what it does best: the relentless grinding of the next project into mind-numbing plans and endless public meetings. Rest assured, any of these choices will expand Durango’s dot on the map of Western Civilization. After all, isn’t that the bottom line?
1. Beneath the River – Dig a tunnel under the river and run the path through that. The tunnel, tile lined in a Southwestern motif and featuring, perhaps, 3D projections showing how the Anasazi crossed a river, would be anchored by a station on either end selling snacks and souvenirs. The west bank station could border a tasteful tree lined courtyard where visitors can relax, enjoy refreshments and wave at the train. Or, economic opportunity here, maybe a McDonalds North? Discrete security personnel could assist the drug addled mistaking the underground portal for another rabbit hole directly back to Alice and also help with smoke ventilation. This is pure genius and a gold mine for the Durango Chamber of Commerce. Imagine the slogans: “Experience the World’s Shortest Tunnel (Under a Body of Water)” or, perhaps, “Durango – Home of the Most Expensive 50 Yards of Trail on the Planet.” This cannot miss. Britain can keep its Chunnel. Durango has a Trunnel.
2. Over and Back, Over and Back – This method of transit across the Animas is on top of the water – a human-powered, rope-pulled ferry. This harkens back to a simpler time of pioneers, self reliance and frequent drownings. Parks and Rec could build an “Early Settler” theme park around it. Trail users (and others) could enjoy a cold sarsaparilla, watch city employees in period costumes churn butter, and then ride the ferry. City em-
ployees would also power the ferry on their days off at their regular hourly wage. The drudgery and dismal pay will seem normal for working folks with two jobs as they try to make ends meet. They can also take home the butter. Again, the Chamber of Commerce could cash in here. Packaged properly and marketed as only they know how, they probably could talk tourists into pulling the ferry for free. Additionally, those sentenced to community service for trespass, vandalism, simple assault, disorderly conduct and public inebriation could find – depending on the judge’s mood – their sentence includes a stint or two working on the ferry. A few days of exhaustion and rope burns would undoubtedly speed their reentry into society. As for the Durango developer, the mind boggles. A river front condo near the ferry crossing? Name your price: 900 sq. ft. celebrating the spirit of American can-do. They’re going like hotcakes. With butter.
3. Up Up and Away – A hot air balloon could easily span the width of the Animas, plus the vistas up there are truly heart stopping. Simply direct those wishing to cross into a loading chute and – quickly, before they change their minds – stuff them in a wicker basket and whisk them up a couple thousand feet. Wait for a favorable breeze to waft the sturdy craft 200 feet across the river then bring ’em back down. Stunningly simple and environmentally sound, this could work. Hot air
balloons are giant flying billboards. Think of the exposure your business would gain from your face plastered across a floating ball of advertising high above north Durango. One small caveat: There are many power lines in the area. There is a slight possibility of a balloon on fire, out of control, plummeting earthward, its passengers screaming, crying, calling out to God, before plunging into the frigid waters of the Animas. Talk about your River of Lost Souls. Yikes. Oh, I know! Dig a tunnel under the river. Put the power lines in that.
4. One last suggestion, I’m almost embarrassed to mention it. Use the money already allocated for the project from Great Outdoors Colorado to partially fund a single foot bridge spanning the Animas River, 32nd Street and the railroad tracks all in one fell swoop, tying the present east bank trail with the new west bank trail. The money is there to be used. It only needs City Council’s approval. That could work, too. Thank you.
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