New route will connect communities and keep people off Hwy. 135
With a shift in strategy from last year, Gunnison County has agreed to give the Skyland Property Owners’ Association the lead position in the plan to build a pedestrian bridge over the Slate River to connect the Riverbend subdivision and Brush Creek Road.
Last June, the county announced a plan to build the bridge during the fall that would keep pedestrians off Highway 135, which is currently the only way to cross the Slate River and reach Brush Creek Road from the town of Crested Butte or Riverbend.
The county Department of Public Works had budgeted $78,000 for the project that would have used components from a temporary Colorado Department of Transportation bridge to link the two communities.
But members of the Riverbend and Skyland communities are hoping that by taking over the project they can build a bridge with a little more visual appeal, and one that will possibly be large enough to hold a snowcat and grooming equipment.
Greg Wiggins, chairman of the Skyland Metropolitan District, says people in Skyland and Riverbend are trying to “gather up enough money to get the best bridge we can,” adding that they are currently working with an engineer to “get pricing and placement of a rusted metal pedestrian bridge.”
The county isn’t sorry to see the project go.
Director of public works Marlene Crosby told the commissioners that she would be happy to get the Slate River bridge project into someone else’s hands and that she would be willing to offer help if she were asked.
“There is a certain dollar amount that we had set aside to complete the bridge and we would make that available to them if they asked for it,” Crosby says.
Other funding for the bridge project has come from private and public donors as well as the Skyland and Riverbend community associations themselves.
Last year the Riverbend Homeowners’ Association sold a piece of land that had an easement for the trail on it. Those proceeds provided some of the community funding for the project, and Wiggins says Skyland has built funding for the bridge into their budget for this year.
The current plan has the bridge closer to Hwy. 135 than the location the county had chosen for it.
“The bridge they are going to build needs a lot more support than the location we had chosen would allow. Too much fill would have been needed in the original location and there were some concerns with the wetlands there,” says Crosby.
Joellen Fonken, chairwoman of the GCTC, says the commission is “delighted that the Skyland POA wants to head up the project. We understand that the bridge will be enhanced with the POA’s involvement and believe that the neighboring homeowners will have input into the project as well, which is a good thing.”
Despite the shuffling of responsibility, the project is still on track to be completed this fall.
Wiggins says, “Once we get the engineering and cost [estimates], we’ll go back out to the community to see what people are thinking and how much we can spend. But we hope to have it in by October.”
He says the community associations are hoping to get some preliminary cost estimates for the bridge in the next month.