Great Outdoors Colorado awarded the city of Durango a $1.3 million grant last week for its Animas River Trail expansion project.
Plans to extend the trail north from Animas City Park to Oxbow Park, along Animas View Drive, have been in the works for about a decade.
The highly anticipated construction project is expected to cost $7.8 million dollars and will likely start early next year, said Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz.
“I think GOCO solicited applications from around the state, so it was a competitive grant cycle,” Metz said. “The amount we are receiving is an extremely large grant award, and it will absolutely make a difference in our ability to move this project forward in a timely manner.”
GOCO invests a portion of proceeds from the Colorado Lottery to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife and open spaces.
Its independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The paved trail extension will be about a mile long and 10-feet wide, similar to other sections of the Animas River Trail. It is being paid for mostly by revenue from dedicated city sales tax.
The city has $3 million set aside for the design portion of the project, Metz said.
Because of the size of the trail extension, the city has broken the project into two stages.
“The area being emphasized right now is the section at the north end of Animas City Park to 36th Street, adjacent to the railroad tracks,” Metz said.
She said the second stage of the project will see construction of a new bridge across the Animas River at the railroad tracks on 32nd Street, between East Second and East Third avenues.
The bridge is expected to cost $3.4 million and is included in the $7.8 million budget.
Although the project is costly, it will connect more than 1,000 people to the city’s trail system and multiple public parks, Metz said.
“The river trail is the main spine of the city’s hard-surface trail system,” she said. “If you look at the neighborhoods to the north of town, a lot of them do not have sidewalks or bike lanes, and the people that live there do not have a trail or access to parks. This trail extension is important for recreation and transportation, and providing that main linkage.”