Montrose, CO — Funds for the construction of over two miles of new recreation trail connecting the northern and southern ends of the City of Montrose were approved Tuesday evening and City Councilors awarded over $3 million in contracts for the project.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the Montrose Connect Initiative Recreation Trail is being planned for January when work on the project is scheduled to begin.
Once completed next year, the project will add approximately 2.25 miles of hard-surfaced recreation trail creating a continuous north-south route between the Montrose Urban Renewal Authority, (MURA) and the Montrose Community Recreation Center. City Engineer Scott Murphy said the trail is "one of the larger construction projects the city has ever undertaken."
The trail will be almost entirely separated from vehicular traffic as designs include underpasses at Townsend Avenue and West Main Street.
Councilors approved $3,007,879 in expenses for the project. The low bidder, Western Gravel Constructors based in Montrose, will build the trail for $2,823,979 while local consulting firm Del-Mont Consultants will add engineering and survey support budgeted at $183,900.
“It has been a long time coming but finally it is close to becoming a reality," Montrose Mayor Roy Anderson said. "The Connect Trail will be the crown jewel of our city’s extensive trail system. Bringing together the north and south ends of town without traffic or street interruptions alongside our most beautiful natural asset, the Uncompahgre River.”
In 2017 the City of Montrose partnered with several local organizations, including the Montrose Recreation District, and was awarded a $2 million dollar grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) to help with construction of the "Connecting the People to their Parks and Rec" project.
The city budgeted $3.25 million for the project within its final 2019 budget. With the GOCO grant reimbursement and $450,000 invested by the Montrose Recreation District and several other organizations, the city's overall contribution to the project is around $550,000, according to Murphy.
"Our fraction of this is relatively small,” Murphy told councilors during a December work session.
"This project is special not only because it provides safe passage under Townsend Avenue and the West Main Bridge, but also because it represents an excellent partnership among several entities such as the city, (Montrose) County, Mayfly Outdoors, Montrose Urban Renewal Authority, Montrose Recreation District and GOCO (Great Outdoors Colorado), just to name a few," City Manager Bill Bell said. "The total cost of the project is approximately $3 million and the city's contribution is approximately $550,000, which highlights the importance of collaboration to make great things happen for our community.”
In August, members of the Western Colorado Conservation Corps, (WCCC) began clearing brush along the proposed trail alignment south of the MURA boundary where the Colorado Outdoors project is currently under development.
The northern reach of the trail snakes along the Uncompahgre River from the MURA boundary to West Main Street, also known as Colorado Highway 90, where it will pass underneath the highway to connect with the existing city trail network at the West Main Trailhead.
Murphy said residents commuting along West Main Street in the area can expect a few weeks of lane shifts but the bridge and roadway will remain open to all through traffic throughout the project.
Construction of the southern portion of the trail will begin at the Montrose Recreation Center and move northwest, passing under South Townsend Avenue (U.S. Highway 550) at the existing bridge at the Dry Cedar Creek arroyo. The trail will then connect to the southern end of the existing Uncompahgre Riverway Trail, near the Russel Stover chocolate factory.
Murphy said the city is awaiting permits from the Colorado Department of Transportation to begin work under Townsend Avenue and West Main Street. That work, according to Murphy, is likely to begin in March.
"The City of Montrose is very excited to begin construction of the Connect Trail, which will provide necessary connectivity for both pedestrians and bicyclists from the Community Recreation Center on the south to the new Colorado Outdoors URA Development on the north," Bell said.
Western Gravel Constructors has completed work for the city repairing the Uncompahgre River Pedestrian Bridge and replacing sidewalks as part of the Northside Safe Routes To Schools project. Councilors said working with a local company helps keep the money in the community "and develop a viable construction workforce within the City."
“That money will stay in Montrose,” Mayor Pro-Tem David Bowman said Tuesday.
With the final bids approved, the trail work is $240,000 under the 2019 budget for the project. The Montrose Recreation District is investing $355,000 for the project with the remaining funds provided by other city partners including Montrose County, Montrose Urban Renewal Authority, Valley Food Partnership, Colorado Health Foundation, Montrose Community Foundation, Montrose Recreational Foundation, Black Hills Energy and the Gates Family Foundation.
The project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2019.
For more City news visit CityOfMontrose.org.