“Technically, this is a very easy trail”
As the Town of Mt. Crested Butte continues to expand with new developments and new residents, so does the need for transportation infrastructure. Mt. Crested Butte officials are now making a concentrated effort to complete an extension of the town’s recreation path and to improve hazardous sections.
The need to extend the rec path has been on the minds of town officials for some time. The current path between the towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte was completed in 2003. In Mt. Crested Butte the path ends at Marcellina Lane, right after the town center and resort base area. With no other sidewalks, pedestrians and bikers must use Gothic Road to continue through town and into the national forest.
Town manager Joe Fitzpatrick said the extension, along with other improvements, is needed for public safety. Plus, the extension will become more important as the Prospect subdivision gets built out and the North Village begins development, he said.
On Tuesday, November 6, before the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council, Jeff Woods with Elk Mountain Planning presented possible plans for a rec path extension. Woods has facilitated the design and construction of many of the recreation paths and sidewalks in Aspen and Snowmass.
Woods presented overlays of possible routes for the path to take, as well as landscaping features to be added along particular areas of the path such as overlooks and runoff ditches.
The path extension would cover 1.7 miles and would mostly follow the east side of Gothic Road until crossing the road near Town Hall. Woods said, “Technically, this is a very easy trail” to build. He said the real challenge will be in securing rights of way and funding.
Mt. Crested Butte applied for a Great Outdoors of Colorado (GOCO) grant last year to fund the extension, but was denied. Fitzpatrick said the grant may have been denied because the town did not have a solid plan for the rec path. “To go out and hunt for grants I need to have something like this (plan) to do it, so people can see it and really have an idea what it’s about,” Fitzpatrick said. He said a plan that shows a connection with the national forest trail system would be better received by GOCO.
Woods agreed that a connection with the national forest would help in securing funding. “GOCO will give you some (funding), but if you tie into the bigger system you have the chance to get a much larger grant,” Woods said.
Woods’ presentation also touched on some general improvements the rec path needs, such as a bridge over Gothic Road where the path crosses near the entrance to town. The bridge could be coupled with a large welcome banner; additional landscaping could help define the area, Woods said. He said the additional touches would “make people feel like they’re entering a special place.”
Mt. Crested Butte Town Council member Mike Kube asked if Woods had a ballpark figure for the cost of the extension.
Woods said a very basic extension with a cheap surface would cost approximately $1 million. “That’s not counting overpasses or anything extra,” he said of the landscaping and additional touches. He said adding a good concrete surface and proper landscaping would bring the total to $1.8 million.
Fitzpatrick says the rec path extension is a joint project between the Town of Mt. Crested Butte and Crested Butte Mountain Resort, which will split the costs evenly. The town’s ability to fund its share of the extension is still being worked through, Fitzpatrick said.
Mt. Crested Butte is budgeting $75,000 in 2008 for additional planning work on the rec path extension and making repairs to existing sections. That includes a major repair to the foundation of the rec path bridge near the Town of Crested Butte—the foundation of the bridge is crumbling away, Fitzpatrick said. Last year the town spent $25,000 in repairs and planning.
Following the presentation, the Town Council gave unanimous support of the plans to extend the path.
“I think it’s critical,” said council member William Buck.
Mt. Crested Butte Planning Commission member David O’Reilly, who attended the presentation, agreed. “I think (the plan) is something well done and it’s something (the council) should pursue,” O’Reilly said.
The council directed Woods to finalize a plan for the extension, authorized Fitzpatrick to pursue grant opportunities for its funding.