Work on Riverfront Trail to Fruita begins

Work is underway to connect the Colorado Riverfront Trail to Fruita after Mesa County commissioners gave the go-ahead for construction in mid-November.

Motorists along the Interstate 70 Frontage Road, also known as River Road, between 18 1/2 Road to the 20 Road overpass should expect delays in coming weeks, according to the contractor on the project, Hudspeth & Associates.

The shoulder of Interstate 70 will be closed starting a half-mile east of the 20 Road overpass. Heavy equipment will be seen off the interstate clearing brush on the banks of the Colorado River for a two-mile stretch between mile marker 23 to 25, the company said in a statement.

Commissioners approved the $4.33 million project. The effort includes up to $500,000 from county funds, with the majority of funds from a Great Outdoors Colorado grant and money from The Conservation Fund.

The 4.2-mile segment connects the Walter Walker Wildlife Sanctuary, roughly at 22 Road, and heads west to 18 1/2 Road in Fruita.

At the time of this latest segment’s approval, during hours of public testimony before the eventual vote to fund the project, County Commissioner Rose Pugliese questioned its cost in casting the only dissenting vote among the three commissioners.

“I’ve heard overwhelmingly at budget meetings and going out in the community that this is not a priority right now,” Pugliese said at the time.

Commissioner Steve Acquafresca countered that the county was getting “a darn good deal” by having the rest of the bill covered by other municipalities, the Riverfront Foundation and Great Outdoors Colorado, which agreed to pay $2.9 million from its lottery-funded coffers. Assistant County Attorney Angela Barnes told the board the penalty for not using the Great Outdoors Colorado grant was unclear, but it could jeopardize the county’s ability to get more GOCO grants in the future.

Commissioner John Justman essentially cast the deciding vote when some costs were trimmed from the project.

Staff writer Emily Shockley contributed to this report


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So far Ms. Pugliese has made a career of hearing what she wants to hear.

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