GOCO grant approved for Hot Sulphur Springs pedestrian bridge | SkyHiNews.com

GOCO grant approved for Hot Sulphur Springs pedestrian bridge

Jessica Smith
jsmith@skyhidailynews.com
Hot Sulphur Springs, CO Colorado

In 2002, a high school class thought it would be a good idea to build a pedestrian bridge in Hot Sulphur Springs. Ten years later, that idea is finally becoming a reality.

Two grants

The Town of Hot Sulphur Springs recently received a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) in the amount of $25,000 to provide bridge, trail and river enhancements to accompany the planned pedestrian bridge. This is to be combined with $5,000 from the town’s Conservation Trust fund, and $2,500 of in-kind contributions from local partners involved in the project.

The bridge itself is to be funded by a federal grant administered by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The grant is currently in the final stages, waiting for final approval from Washington, D.C.

“We have to have every single “i” dotted and “t” crossed and everything perfect and ready to go,” said Project Manager Geoff Elliott, of Grand Environmental Sciences. “The project is approved and agreed, but it’s not officially budgeted for this year. It needs to be budgeted, and that’s not an easy thing.”

The final word on the CDOT grant must come from Washington, D.C., as it is a federal grant, and therefore it is difficult to know exactly when that will happen, and when after that construction can begin. It could be as early as this fall, or as late as next year.

“I’m very optimistic, but I’m not holding my breath,” said Elliott.

Enhancements

Although the CDOT grant is currently still in process, the GOCO grant for enhancements and improvements surrounding the bridge has been fully approved.

The goal of the pedestrian bridge is to span the Colorado River and connect Pioneer Park with Town Park, providing further access between the two, and creating a trail loop for walkers and bikers.

Trustee Dan Nolan has supported the project since its inception.

“It’s going to be a really neat opportunity for people to enjoy the river even more than they do,” he said.

The GOCO grant will also support further enhancements to the bridge area, including nearby landscaping, benches and lighting on the bridge, a day-use area on the Pioneer Park side with picnic tables, and kiosks in both parks with educational and environmental information for visitors. Additionally, improved angler access will be put in upstream of the bridge in the form of sunken boulders, allowing fishermen ideal river access without the danger of trampling the riverbank.

Work on the bridge enhancements will likely begin toward the end of September of this year. Because some of the work, particularly the angler access, needs to be done in the water, construction must be carefully planned around the needs and cycles of the local wildlife.

“There’s a very short window of time when fish aren’t spawning or having eggs in the river,” said Elliott. “We have to do the work in the river during that period of time.”

He also mentioned respecting the patterns of certain migratory birds that frequent the river.

“We have to work out the calendar with all these different players,” he said. “Everyone needs to be respected.”

Support

In addition to the town’s grant application, GOCO received letters of support from the community in favor of the project. Letters mentioned the convenience of having a trail loop, and connecting the recreational aspects of Town Park with the disc golf course at Pioneer Park.

“There were some very nice people who said, ‘I walk in the park every day, and want a loop,'” said Elliott. “We had some really strong supportive letters.”

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