Change is coming to the Animas River Trail this year to make it safer and extend it north.
Construction is expected to start this summer on a trail extension that will run from Animas City Park to Oxbow Park and Preserve, said Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz.
This year, during the first phase, the city expects to build the trail from the north end of Animas City Park to the 36th Street or 37th Street, she said. The city has set aside $1.7 million for construction in 2017.
In 2018, the city plans to continue north to Oxbow Park and Preserve, she said.
In the final stage, the city plans build a single structure that would cross the river slightly downstream of 32nd Street and then cross over 32nd Street. Previously, the city planned on two bridges, one at 31st Street and an overpass at 32nd Street.
The three phases of the project are in the design stage, and a final estimate for the project has not been determined, she said. The city had planned to spend $1 million on the trail extension in 2018.
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board recommended building a pedestrian river crossing last because there is an at-grade crossing at 32nd Street for trail users.
“The board was really liking the idea of getting that connection from Animas City and Oxbow,” said Metz about the views of members of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. As part of the trail design, the city plans to meet with homeowners who live adjacent to the trail alignment to talk with them about the elevation, Metz said. “Our hope is to get everyone engaged,” she said.
Parks and Recreation is also working on proposals to guide trail etiquette, such as a speed limit between 10 and 15 miles per hour. Residents requested changes to encourage safety on the trail during meetings of city boards examining whether to allow electric bikes on the trails. E-bikes have small motors that assist the rider. Some motors kick in to assist the rider when pedaling and other models have throttles.
City staff members expect to present a recommendation on e-bikes and trail safety during a public meeting in April. Three city advisory boards are drafting rules.
While Metz acknowledges that Durango is a cycling town and many people ride faster than 15 miles per hour, “we are giving people a frame of reference with the speed limit of how fast they should go,” she said.
Enforcement of new trail rules has been an ongoing concern. The city already prohibits people from endangering others, and trail users can report cyclists who are going too fast to the Durango Police Department.
The city is also considering striping the trail in sections where it is difficult to see oncoming trail users to encourage cyclists to stay on their side of the trail. The trail is striped at the U.S. Highway 160 underpass because two cyclists hit head-on in that area, Metz said. The city may also install yield signs near intersections.
More information can be found at the city’s website by searching “ART North Extension.” Comments on Parks and Recreation projects can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.