Council Explores Animas Trail Options

03/06/2020
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A proposed pedestrian bridge that crosses the Animas River adjacent to the traffic bridge on 32nd Street has been in the planning stages for 15 years, but last-hour protests have spawned another look.

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THE DURANGO CITY COUNCIL WANTS CITY STAFF TO TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT OPTIONS TO CONNECT THE ANIMAS RIVER TRAIL FROM EAST THIRD AVENUE TO EAST SECOND AVENUE AT 32ND STREET. YOU'RE WATCHING THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE. EARLIER THIS WINTER, THE DURANGO PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT RELEASED AN ARTIST'S RENDERING OF A PROPOSED PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE THAT WOULD CROSS THE ANIMAS RIVER AT 32ND STREET, PASS OVER THE DURANGO AND SILVERTON RAILROAD TRACKS, AND CROSS OVER 32ND STREET TO DESCEND ONTO THE SIDEWALK ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE RIVER. THE BRIDGE WILL BE THE LAST CONNECTION OF THE ANIMAS RIVER TRAIL FROM THE SOUTH OF 32ND STREET TO THE NORTH AND WILL PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE NEW OXBOW PARK AT THE TRAIL'S TERMINUS. BUT THE RENDERING OF THE LONG-PLANNED BRIDGE SPARKED PUBLIC OUTCRY, GENERATING HUNDREDS OF EMAILS, FOUR ADDITIONAL PUBLIC MEETINGS IN FEBRUARY, AND DOZENS OF ALTERNATIVES THAT ALREADY HAD BEEN VETTED BY CITY ADVISORY BOARDS AND PAST COUNCILS WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ANIMAS RIVER TRAIL MASTER PLAN.
WE ARE WHERE WE ARE BECAUSE OF 15 YEARS OF WORKING WITH NEIGHBORHOODS IN PUBLIC OUTREACH. I CAN'T BELIEVE THE PARKS AND REC DEPARTMENT WOULD HAVE SO MANY PUBLIC MEETINGS GO, YOU KNOW, GO BACK, REDESIGN, RE-EVALUATE, DO COST ANALYSIS AND THEN COME BACK WITH A PUBLIC MEETING. AND, AND THAT IS WHY WE ARE WHERE WE ARE TODAY BECAUSE OF ALL THE EFFORT IN ALL THE DIFFERENT MEETINGS AND OUTREACH. AT THE MARCH 3RD DURANGO CITY COUNCIL MEETING, PARKS AND RECREATION STAFF SUMMARIZED THE VARIOUS ALTERNATIVES TO THE NORTH-SOUTH CONNECTION AND SAID THAT THE PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE ULTIMATELY WAS SELECTED BECAUSE IT ELIMINATES CONFLICTS BETWEEN VEHICULAR TRAFFIC AND PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLE TRAFFIC.  IT PASSES OVER THE TRAIN TRACKS, NOT ACROSS THE TRACKS. AND IT WAS MORE FEASIBLE THAN AN UNDERPASS WHEN FIRST ANALYZED BECAUSE AN UNDERPASS WOULD REQUIRE RIGHTS-OF-WAY PURCHASES FROM PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNERS. IN ADDITION, THE UNDERPASS WOULD BE SUBJECT TO FLOODING WHEN ANIMAS RIVER FLOWS EXCEED 42-HUNDRED CUBIC FEET PER SECOND. LAST YEAR, THE UNDERPASS WOULD HAVE BEEN CLOSED FOR FOUR WEEKS FROM HIGH SPRING RUN OFF. PARKS AND RECREATION DIRECTOR CATHY METZ TOLD COUNCIL MEMBERS THAT PUBLIC TESTIMONY INCLUDED SUPPORT FOR THE BRIDGE AS IT WAS DESIGNED AS WELL AS OBJECTIONS BECAUSE OF ITS 4 POINT ONE MILLION DOLLAR EXPENSE AND BECAUSE OF THE VISUAL IMPACT IT HAD ON THE LANDSCAPE. CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS ALREADY HAVE BEEN RELEASED FOR BID ON THE BRIDGE PROJECT, AND BIDS ARE DUE BY MARCH 24TH. BUT BEFORE ANYTHING HAPPENS, COUNCIL MEMBERS ASKED STAFF TO EXPLORE THE UNDERPASS OPTION AGAIN. LAST MONTH, THE PROPERTY OWNERS OF THE NORTHWEST CORNER LOT AT 32ND STREET AND EAST THIRD AVENUE SAID THEY WOULD BE WILLING TO SELL THE PROPERTY TO DEVELOP THE UNDERPASS. COUNCIL MEMBERS ALSO ASKED STAFF TO REVISIT A PROPOSAL TO CONNECT THE TRAIL BEHIND THE RECREATION CENTER TO 32ND STREET. THAT CONNECTION ALSO WOULD REQUIRE A BRIDGE-LIKE STRUCTURE PARALLEL TO THE TRAIN TRACKS BECAUSE OF THE STEEP, DROPPING GRADE ALONG EAST SECOND AVENUE BETWEEN 28TH AND 30TH STREETS. NEIGHBORS OBJECTED TO THAT PROPOSAL FOR THE SAME REASONS THAT HAVE BEEN RAISED ABOUT THE PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE AT 32ND STREET. SO FOR NOW, A DECISION ON THE PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS WILL BE PUT ON HOLD UNTIL THE APRIL 7TH COUNCIL MEETING. IF YOU'D LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE ANIMAS RIVER TRAIL PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE AT 32ND STREET, VISIT DURANGO GOV DOT ORG AND SEARCH FOR ANIMAS RIVER TRAIL. THANKS FOR WATCHING THIS EDITION OF LOCAL NEWS NETWORK. IF YOU'D LIKE TO SEE THIS STORY AGAIN, VISIT OUR WEBSITE WHERE YOU CAN SIGN UP TO HAVE US DELIVER YOUR NEWS DIRECTLY INTO YOUR INBOX. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE FOR THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK.

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