More miles added to Riverfront Trail

City and county officials cut the ribbon that officially opened the new section of Riverfront Trail Thursday morning. The new trail has not yet been named.

Another pearl was officially added to the string Thursday morning when city and county officials cut the ribbon on the newest section of Riverfront Trail.

The additional three mile track begins at the Blue Heron Boat ramp and winds west along the Colorado River.

This is the first of a three-phrase project started last year to connect the Grand Junction and Fruita portions of the trail.

Construction of Phase I began Jan. 1 and was completed July 1 at the cost of $1.44 million dollars, said Greg Linzay, parks manager for Mesa County.

Donna Ross, regional services director for Mesa County, explained that funding for this portion of the trail was a collaborative effort between a variety of state and local agencies.

In particular, Great Outdoors Colorado awarded two grants to Mesa County totaling $575,000. Other contributors included the Colorado Riverfront Foundation, Western Colorado Conservation Corps, City of Fruita, Junior Service League of Grand Junction, and the Town of Palisade.

Easements were donated by the Colororado Parks and Wildlife, City of Grand Junction, United Companies and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The next two phases will follow directly with bidding for Phase II beginning in October. Linzay expects construction to begin by late November with a finish date of late April. That portion is estimated to cost $1.1 million dollars, Linzay said.

Phase III will open bidding in January with a construction start date in February. Linzay said the entire project will be completed by next year.

“This will be an interstate for alternative transportation in valley,” said Craig Meis, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, as he addressed the group eager to ride the trail.

Meis envisions the completed project as a thoroughfare for bicyclists on their way to work and others looking for a long stretch of uninterrupted concrete in which to recreate.

When these three phases are complete, the trail will span 21 miles.

The Riverfront Trail has been a community dream since the early 1980s when a group of locals volunteered to clean-up Watson Island.

At that time, the trail was envisioned and described by civic leader James M. Robb as a “string of pearls” that would stretch along the Colorado River, interspersed with beautiful parks.

One of those parks was later named for Robb and his work as a founder of the Colorado Riverfront Foundation.

The Colorado Riverfront Commission is celebrating its 25th anniversary, said Bill Prakken, chairmen of group.

It’s been a long 25 years but each piece of new trail brings the dream closer to reality.

Once the Grand Junction to Fruita connection is complete, Mesa County plans to begin work on the trail between 27 ½ Road and 29 Road. This trail will allow the final connection between Clifton to Palisade to be completed in the upcoming years.


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