An Animas River Trail extension toward Three Springs may be headed over, instead of across, U.S. Highway 550/160, by way of a $2 million bridge.
The Parks and Recreation and Multi-Modal advisory boards considered options for the trail alignment Wednesday, but they will not make a decision until later this year.
Once the boards settle on a trail route, the city staff members can finalize design and work on negotiating easements across private property, said Kevin Hall, assistant director of community development. It will also allow the city to seek more grant-funding for the project.
Currently, the Federal Transit Administration is providing $400,000 for the design of the trail from its current terminus at River Road to Farmington Hill. But there is not a timeline for construction yet.
Once a trail to Three Springs is complete, it is projected to be a highly used corridor, Hall said.
“We hear a lot from our community: This is a priority connection,” said Cathy Metz, director of parks and recreation.
One option for the trail is a route from River Road across the crosswalk at the intersection of Highway U.S. 550/160 and then up some switchbacks to an old railroad alignment above the highway. This option would provide a connection to the Sale Barn trailhead.
A variation of this option would be to include an overpass at the intersection, which would be safer.
But the overpass might be awkward for trail users because they would need to ride up and down several tight turns to use it, said Scott McClain, parks, open space and trails specialist with the city.
The trail could potentially run between U.S. Highway 550/160 and the frontage road between the Home Depot intersection on a separate, segregated trail that would connect to an angled overpass to cross the highway west of Farmington Hill. This overpass could be built with more gradual ramps.
A third option would take the trail south of the highway between the river and commercial buildings. It would then cross Trestle Lane before turning back toward the highway and crossing over the busy highway via an overpass west of Farmington Hill.
The two advisory boards discussed the merits of an overpass. In general, it would make the route safer, even though it would add about $2 million to the cost of the project.
It might also make it possible for more children to ride their bikes from Three Springs to Escalante Middle School, said Julie Popp, a spokeswoman for Durango School District 9-R.
But board members did not come to a consensus on the best route.
The only alignment that raised concern for the public was the alignment that would bring the trail across Trestle Lane, a residential, county road.
“We’re going to have more crime,” said Mike Lynas, a resident of the neighborhood.
The neighbors also voiced concern the trail might bring in transients, who would be tempted to camp on their land.
These concerns have been raised before when the trail has moved into a new area, but residents have found its presence can help reduce crime, Metz said.
“We want to work with you, so we can be a positive asset,” she said.
The boards are accepting written comments on the trail options through July 31.
Comments can be emailed to email@example.com.