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Work is nearing completion on the design of the first two phases of the walking and biking trail that will eventually circle Elizabeth.
“Phases one and two of the trail are designed to be about 6,800 feet long,” said Grace Swanson, Elizabeth community development director. “The path will be either concrete or finely crushed rock. We hope to see construction begin about August.”
She said the initial work will be clearing vegetation by hand along portions of the trail, so putting down the surface will probably start by October.
The first phase of trail would proceed from the Elizabeth Park and Recreation trail extending west across Running Creek with a new pedestrian bridge and then the trail would extend south under Highway 86 to Maple Street, connecting into Main Street through Spruce Street.
The proposed cost of phase one and two of the trail will be approximately $1.4 million. Swanson said grants from the Colorado Department of Highways and Greater Outdoors Colorado make up about $1.3 million of the cost, with Elizabeth providing about $100,000 to cover the costs.
She said that later in the trail construction process a portion of it will be built by CDOT. Swanson said that is because CDOT planned to build a connection from Highway 86 to Elizabeth Middle School as part of a road project in the area. Part of the construction plans were for a sidewalk along the side of the connection. The city worked with CDOT to increase the width of the sidewalk from 6 feet to 10 feet so it could be a part of Elizabeth's trail project.
Building a trail to circle the city has been discussed for at last two years, said Aden Hogan, town manager.
“Members of the town board have made trail construction a priority. The trail will provide a safe place to walk and cycle,” he said. “When completed the trail will offer a way to view and visit areas throughout the city.”
Mayor Pro Tem Rachael White agreed.
“I feel a trail is an important project for our town,” she said. “A trail makes a town feel more friendly and provides a safe place to our residents and visitors to ride bikes or go walk for a nice walk to see all the areas of our community.”
She said it is a major project and plans are to build the trail in phases, taking one step at a time. She said hopefully the construction on phases one and two will begin this summer and be completed in 2018.
Hogan said portions of phase one and two will travel along Running Creek, providing an opportunity to see the wetlands and the abundance of wildlife living in the area.
Hogan said there are also plans to create rock structures along the banks to protect the creek. He said the proposal is to create the structures so they look like part of the creek. He also said the rock structures would preserve the creek bank and create areas where the water could pool.
Trail planning also required a special environmental study because the area along Running Creek is possibly home to the Preble's meadow jumping mouse. The mouse is found only in Colorado and Wyoming and is listed as threatened in the United States Endangered Species Act.
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