Riverview School students living in the nearby Ironbridge and Westbank neighborhoods south of Glenwood Springs could have a safer route to school by fall.
The Roaring Fork School District, Garfield County and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority are finalizing plans for a new trail connection along County Road 109, across the Roaring Fork River and connecting to the existing Rio Grande Trail.
The Roaring Fork Schools board last week approved an inter-governmental agreement — including funding commitments from each of the participating entities — to pay for what’s expected to be a $1 million-plus trail connection.
In addition, the school district and Garfield County were awarded a $500,000 Colorado Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School grant, and the school district was awarded a $200,000 Garfield Federal Mineral Lease District grant to help fund the project.
The county and school district have also jointly applied for a CDOT Transportation Alternatives Program grant in the amount of $500,000. That grant decision is still pending.
The project is at about the 90% design phase, Roaring Fork Schools Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gatlin said.
As planned, the trail would extend from the point where an existing trail ends at the north end of the Ironbridge subdivision. From there, the new trail would follow CR 109 to the old iron bridge itself, which would be repurposed as a pedestrian bridge.
The trail would then cross County Road 154 and traverse the hillside up to the RFTA’s existing Rio Grande Trail on the old railroad corridor.
Students and other users would then be able to follow the Rio Grand by bike or foot to the existing trail near Orrison Distributing that accesses the Riverview School.
“We already have a great resource there with the Rio Grande Trail, so this new trail would serve two purposes — getting students to the school in a safe manner, and giving people who want to recreate a new way to get to the Rio Grande Trail,” Gatlin said.
Gatlin said improvements would also be made to the current Rio Grande crossing at CR 154, including a user-activated flashing beacon at the crossing. Grading and removal of brush from the area should also improve sight lines for both pedestrians and motorists at the intersection, he said.
Safe access to the pre-kindergarten-through-eighth grade Riverview School for students wanting to walk or ride their bikes has been a concern since the school opened on the bench area between the FedEx facility and the Roaring Fork River in 2017.
The driveway entrance to the school is not conducive for a direct bike/pedestrian path, and school and county officials have wanted to maintain as much vehicle and pedestrian separation as possible, Gatlin said.
After the school’s first year, the trail connection to the Rio Grande near Orrison was constructed to help with access, but the missing link has remained between Riverview and the areas across the river.
School district officials have also proposed some significant intersection improvements at the busy Highway 82/County Road 154 turnoff, possibly involving a grade-separated highway and Rio Grande Trail crossing.
That option is still on the table, but likely several years down the road and subject to significant funding commitments, Gatlin said.
Gatlin said construction on the new Westbank trail connection could begin this spring, and be ready for use by next school year.