Riverfront Trail expands, at cost of $1.44 million
Another pearl was officially added to the string Thursday morning when Mesa County and Grand Junction officials cut the ribbon on the newest section of the Colorado Riverfront Trail.
The additional three-mile track begins at the Blue Heron Boat Ramp off Redlands Parkway and winds west along the Colorado River to the Walter Walker State Wildlife Area.
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 the first phase began Jan. 1 and was completed July 1 at the cost of $1.44 million, said Greg Linza, county parks and landscape manager.
Donna Ross, regional services director for the 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, the city of Fruita, the town of Palisade and the Junior Service League of Grand Junction.
Easements were donated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the city of Grand Junction, United Companies and the Bureau of Land Management.
The next two phases will follow immediately, with bidding for the second phase beginning in October. Linza expects construction to begin by late November and finish in late April. That portion is estimated to cost $1.1 million, Linza said.
Bidding for the third and final phase will open in January, with construction starting in February. Linza said the entire project will be completed by next year.
“This will be an interstate for alternative transportation in the valley,” County Commissioner Craig Meis said as he addressed a 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 on 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 south of downtown.
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.
Those parks were later named for Robb and his work as a founder of the Colorado Riverfront Foundation.
Once the Grand Junction to Fruita connection is complete, Mesa County plans to begin work on the trail between 27 1/2 and 29 roads. This trail will allow the final connection between Clifton to Palisade to be completed in the upcoming years.