Granby eyes railroad overpass |

Granby eyes railroad overpass

Tonya Bina
Granby CO Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News | Sky-Hi News

GRANBY – A pedestrian overpass above the railroad tracks and a new paved trail along US Highway 40 to City Market may be among future improvements in the town of Granby.

Similar to the paved trail between Fraser and Winter Park, town officials are working with the Colorado Department of Transportation to provide a walking/biking trail that would begin near the southern end of the bridge near the fire station and continue on the western side of Highway 40 all the way to the City Market intersection. The trail would be a 10-foot-wide asphalt path about 70 feet from the highway, according to Town Manager Wally Baird.

Also as part of the project, a pedestrian overpass would connect the downtown district to Kaibab Park near Fifth Street and Railroad Avenue. The overpass would span a distance of about 200 feet, over the railroad, then – in initial designs – would spiral in a gentle grade to connect to a trail that would circumvent the ballfield at Kaibab. The trail would then continue across the existing river bridge, where it would meet the paved trail to City Market along Highway 40, or the natural trail through Grand Elk property.

The town has been granted $382,000 in Transportation Enhancement Funds through the Colorado Department of Transportation to help fund the project, which might cost a total $1.5 million in preliminary estimates, according to Baird. The transportation funds are expected to be available in 2013; meanwhile, Baird said he is actively seeking other grants for the project. It is the manager’s goal to see project completion by 2014, he said.

Both ends of the trail project would connect to Headwaters Trails Alliance trails that aim to connect all Grand County towns.

The Fraser to Granby trail is “pretty much done,” said Headwaters Executive Director Maura McKnight, save for a connection from the intersection of Ten Mile Drive and Village Road at the Inn at SilverCreek to Kaibab Park, construction of which will resume this spring.

The town’s plans for a paved pedestrian trail along the highway would create two choices for pedestrians to reach Granby’s City Market area, McKnight said, or pedestrians could use the two trails as a greater loop.

Baird has been working on the overpass project since as early as 2008, when it was identified that a pedestrian bridge over the railway would keep park users safe, would influence better utilization of that park, and would decrease auto traffic to and from the park.

Trails and more

Meanwhile, other projects are being envisioned for the southern part of Granby’s downtown business district – the backside of Main Avenue businesses.

Laura Hagar, vice president of Infinite West, is one who sees the untapped potential in this part of Granby.

Outside of the train depot, for example, incoming visitors are treated first thing to a sagebrush- and weed-covered hillside.

A trail that is supposed to lead visitors up the hillside to the downtown is barely marked and overgrown.

“Railroad Avenue is in dire need of a facelift,” said Hagar, a Hot Sulphur Springs-area resident who spends much of her time in Granby.

Sprucing up that part of town could lead to a greater utilization of what is available there, she said.

“The view from Railroad Avenue is one of the most spectacular views in Granby,” Hagar said. Restaurants and other businesses that back up to Railroad would benefit from outdoor, cafe-like seating that captures views of Byers Peak, “like a river walk,” she said.

Hagar hopes to search for grants that could lead to attractive retaining walls on the slope of Railroad Avenue, with distinct pathways leading up to the downtown at every street from Fifth Street to Zero.

The pathways would provide convenient access to trails, the river, Kaibab Park and to bicycle routes directly from the downtown, Hagar said.

But private land ownership of the Railroad Avenue slope is one major hurdle to improvements as well as the hurdle of funding.

In the least, it is Baird’s hope that modest improvements be made to the slope, such as native wildflowers planted there, he said. And new signage to better direct train passengers to the downtown is something the Main Street design committee may be taking up as a project, according to Granby’s Downtown Enhancement Director Laurie Findley.

Another separate project would create a short trail with views of the Fraser River.

As part of the greater “Fraser River Initiative,” the Middle Park Land Trust is seeking Great Outdoors Colorado funding for conservation easements that may include an interpretive trail loop that would show off the Fraser River south of downtown Granby. The ADA-accessible trail would start at CR 57 and lead 300 to 400 feet in to a Fraser River outlook on a bluff, according to Carse Pustmueller, executive director of the Middle Park Land Trust. The trail would be used for educational outreach as well as pure enjoyment.

Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603

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