Pitkin County Ponders Spending over $1 Million per Mile on Rio Grande Trail Improvements

From the Aspen Times

ASPEN — Pitkin County Open Space and Trails can potentially come up with the money for a $6 million to $7 million Rio Grande Trail project, but should it?

That was the gist of a conversation among members of the county's open space board Thursday.

Paving the remaining unpaved section of the Rio Grande outside Aspen or providing a paved alternative is financially doable, the board was told, but at least one member questioned whether Open Space and Trails ought to be considering an expenditure of that magnitude to address a four-mile link of gravel trail.

“We're talking about over a million a mile for a bicycle trail,” said board member Anne Rickenbaugh. “I've had a couple of people come up to me and say, ‘What are you, nuts?'”

“Thank you, Anne. I couldn't agree more,” said board member Tai Jacober.

“I'm not saying we shouldn't do it,” Rickenbaugh clarified. “I just think this is a serious conversation we need to have.”

At issue is a section of the popular trail above Woody Creek and below Aspen — the only gravel piece in an otherwise paved trail that stretches 42 miles between Aspen and Glenwood Springs.

“It's not an accident this last piece is left, because it's got a lot of problems,” said Dale Will, open space director. “It's not an easy fix.”

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