Durango Telegraph - Growing the ART: City works toward completion of transportation ?spine?
Growing the ART: City works toward completion of transportation ?spine?

The backbone of Durango is about to grow. Plans are in the works to complete the Animas River Trail, not only on its south end but to the northern city limits as well. Not only is the City of Durango filling in the missing links from where the path dead ends behind the Durango Mall to its terminus at Escalante Middle School, but it is also in the early stages of extending the trail 2½ miles north, from 32nd Street to the former Iron Horse Inn.

“We are really working on connecting the dots,” said Durango Director of Parks and Rec Cathy Metz.

Metz said on the trail’s north end, the city is working with the Durango and Silverton Railroad since the majority of the trail would likely be in the railroad’s right of way. The city is in the process of surveying the land in order to determine where exactly that

right of way is. Once determined, the public will be brought into the planning process, she said. “This summer, the public will have the opportunity to participate in the discussion on the trail’s design and where it should be located,” she said.

Preliminary ideas call for taking the trail from where it ends behind the Recreation Center along the river and under the 32nd Street bridge. Metz said she also expects a portion of the trail along Animas View Drive to go out for construction bid this summer.

On the south end of town, the city is now bidding out for construction of the trail behind Escalante Middle School and Escalante Crossing. The city will also look at design options for the corner of the trail behind the Durango Mall as well as the pedestrian bridge that will cross the river near the Highway 160

High Bridge. Metz said she expects the long-awaited connection behind the mall, which crosses private property, to begin in 2010. “We’ll be designing that part of the trail in 2009, but construction can’t take place until 2010 as per an agreement with the landowner.”

Further down the road, the city is looking at arterial connections to the ART such as the Smart 160 project to Grandview, as well as connections to the College Mesa and the Lightner Creek connection on Highway 160 West. “It’s great that we have such strong support from the community,” she said. “We’re definitely taking steps in the direction of completing the spine of the Animas River Trail.”

– Missy Votel