Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Summit County Gets Green Light for Recpath Extension

Summit County gets green light for recpath extension

Summit County government's proposal to extend its recpath to Copper Mountain's Far East Lot has been approved by the U.S. Forest Service.
Though it's approved, the best-case scenario shows trail construction beginning in late summer next year, Summit County open space and trails resource specialist Brad Eckert said. Because it hasn't gone to bid, no price estimate has been released.
With the decision issued, those in the public who have commented can appeal the decision for roughly the next month.

The trail extension is designed to improve safety on the county's recpath system east of Highway 91 near the Interstate 70 interchange, where the path currently disintegrates into utility trail and frontage road access to Copper Mountain and Highway 91.
“It's confusing and deteriorating and it doesn't allow a smooth flow of traffic through that area,” Eckert said.

The proposal includes construction of a 12-foot-wide asphalt recpath and two-foot soft shoulders to connect the Highway 91/Copper Road intersection and Highway 91 south of Copper Mountain's parking areas. The proposed trail extension covers roughly 7,200 feet, Eckert said.
A bridge to be constructed on Copper Mountain's land will span Tenmile Creek and allow users to gain access to the Highway 91/Copper Road intersection. The existing stock bridge east of Copper's parking lot will be replaced to allow users to continue riding along the west side of Tenmile Creek between it and Copper's Far East Lot before terminating the trail at Highway 91. The existing bridge at the northern terminus of the recpath will be upgraded with new railings and resurfaced with asphalt. All bridges will be designed to meet Forest Service scenery guidelines.

Two letters were received during the environmental assessment comment period, one support letter from Copper Mountain and one from the Colorado Trail Foundation, which recommended additional design criteria to protect the existing integrity of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, which has similar general alignment with the recpath.

White River National Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said in his decision that the paved recreation path will be immediately adjacent to the existing Copper Mountain Far East Lot, and the Continental Divide Trail will be located to the east of the paved recpath as it extends to Highway 91. A vegetated buffer between the paved recreation path and the Continental Divide Trail will be maintained and/or created, where appropriate.

Summit County Government is responsible for constructing the recreation path.
Fitzwilliams specified that “all project design criteria ... as well as two additional design criteria requested by the Colorado Trail Foundation, are required to be adhered to by Summit County Government.”

For instance, where the recreation path abuts Tenmile Creek and associated wetlands, the width of path shoulders will be minimized to avoid and minimize impacts. French drains will also be installed under the recpath to allow water to continue flowing beneath the paved surface. Where the stream channels intersect the path, culverts and bridges will be built to accommodate or restore the flow.
“Each of these features will improve how water is currently transferred to Tenmile Creek and at the bridge location where the stream channel is restored,” Fitzwilliams said. “Aquatic habitat will be improved adjacent to Tenmile Creek.”

An environmental assessment was created and distributed for public comment in October. It was the basis for Fitzwilliams' decision.

He evaluated another alternative, the no-action alternative, as required by the analysis process, but found the proposed action more suitable.
View the full environmental assessment and record of decision online at http://1.usa.gov/uEE8gy.

Courtesy Summit Daily News