Pedestrian span over Colorado River officially open

Doug and Kathryn Hovde ride their bikes across the new pedestrian bridge.

Doug and Kathryn Hovde were so anxious for the new pedestrian bridge over the Colorado River in Clifton to open, they were asking construction workers about the completion date.

The East Orchard Mesa residents eagerly pedaled across the bridge when it unofficially opened two weeks ago. And they showed up again Friday, along with about two dozen other people, for a ceremony marking the finish of a project that will enhance biker safety and could boost business for the fruit orchards and wineries that dot the south side of the river between Palisade and Clifton.

The 10-foot-wide, 390-foot-long bridge just east of 32 Road initially was intended to serve as a vessel for a new sewer line between Whitewater and the Clifton Sanitation District. But Mesa County officials, rebuffed in their efforts to attach the line to the underside of the 32 Road bridge, figured it made sense to give the new bridge the added functionality of pedestrian and bike access.

The north side of the river features more than 800 feet of concrete trail to connect the bridge to the existing Riverfront Trail. On the south side, nearly 1,000 feet of trail connects the bridge to C 1/2 Road and the newly designated Palisade Fruit and Wine Byway, a popular cycling route.

Bicyclists who wanted to pedal around the orchards and vineyards of Palisade and East Orchard Mesa previously had to share the narrow 32 Road bridge with cars traveling at least 45 mph. The Hovdes, who live about a mile and a half from the new pedestrian bridge, said 32 Road was so “scary” to navigate on a bicycle that they drove to Corn Lake in order to access the Riverfront Trail.

“This bridge will probably save lives,” Doug Hovde said.

High Country Orchards co-owner Scott High said he received more than 3,000 visitors between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year. He thinks that number will increase as a result of the new bridge.

The estimated $1 million cost of the bridge was split between the county and a state Department of Local Affairs grant.


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