Riverfront Trail just keeps getting better
Even in a somewhat incomplete state, the Riverfront Trail is a well-used and valuable community asset serving three separate communities. Hopefully, someday it will connect them all seamlessly.
Thankfully — and this is the season to express such sentiments — our local elected officials continue to show some vision and seek to make improvements to the 30-mile paved trail hugging the Colorado River nearly the length of the Grand Valley.
The latest development is a payoff from decisions made a decade ago during construction of the 29 Road Bridge. Mesa County officials raised the bridge 4 feet higher than standard, offering 9 feet of headspace beneath the bridge near the bank of the river. They did so anticipating that the Riverfront Trail would connect there. It doesn’t — yet. Officials are still working with landowners to obtain easements and purchase rights of way between Las Colonias Park and the 29 Road connection.
For now, C 1/2 Road remains the unofficial connector between the two finished sections of paved trail. But a path under the 29 Road Bridge means cyclists and pedestrians who use the trail won’t have to dodge 29 Road traffic. Mesa County Public Works Director Pete Baier recently announced plans to build a path under the bridge.
Residents are invited to an open house about the idea at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 7 in Mesa County Conference Room 40, 200 S. Spruce St.
Meanwhile, the city of Fruita is using a $2 million grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to build 4.5 miles of new trails connecting the town to the popular Kokopelli Trailhead near Loma.
In August, Fruita was awarded a $1 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for the project.
“This trail impacts so many pieces of our overall goals to positively influence quality of place, economic health and lifestyle,” Fruita City Manager Mike Bennett said. “The trail will serve residents, tourists and businesses alike connecting Fruita to the Kokopelli Trailhead with a 10-foot-wide paved trail and single track along it.”
After completion of the Kokopelli section of the trail, the Colorado Riverfront Trail has two remaining connections for the trail to span the entire Grand Valley — the aforementioned gap between Las Colonias and 29 Road, and another one between 33 1/2 Road and Palisade.
The trail has grown slowly since work started in 1995 thanks to a GOCO Legacy Grant. Now that it’s largely in place, with a planned spur to connect it to the Tabeguache Trail, it’s comforting to know that continues to receive support from state agencies and local officials.