Grant to fund Riverfront Trail extension

Craig Meis
Craig Meis, Mesa County Commissioner
Steve Aquafresca, Mesa County Commissioner
Steve Aquafresca, Mesa County Commissioner

A grant for nearly $3 million is expected to help close a gap in the Colorado Riverfront Trail between Grand Junction and Fruita.

Funding from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) for the new construction also constitutes another step toward ultimately extending the trail through the length of the Grand Valley.

“Mesa County has made completion of the Riverfront Trail from Fruita to Palisade a top priority,” said Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis. “This large grant from GOCO will enable us to speed up our next big step toward that goal.”

Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said there are many reasons for continued support of the Riverfront Trail. “It is an important amenity that increases quality of life for area residents — giving them access to a number of outdoor recreation activities, as well as an alternative transportation route. The trail helps make the community a more desirable place to live and to visit while protecting open space and wildlife habitat along the river.”

The $2.9 million grant for the Riverfront Trail was part of more than $37 million in funding GOCO awarded in June using proceeds from the Colorado lottery. The Riverfront Trail was one of eight projects funded through an initiative developed by GOCO to foster outdoor recreation and land preservation along Colorado rivers.

“Great Outdoors Colorado spends a lot of time out in communities across Colorado and we hear the same themes repeatedly,” said Tom Burke, a member of the GOCO board from Grand Junction. “Coloradans stress the importance of increased recreational opportunities close to home and the potential of rivers and trails, trails, trails.”

Since Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction formed the Colorado Riverfront Commission in 1987, more than 16 miles of the Riverfront Trail have been constructed.

The latest GOCO grant will help pay for a 4.2-mile concrete section of the Colorado Riverfront Trail, the third of three phases of construction of the trail between Grand Junction and Fruita.

The first phase heading west from Grand Junction is nearing completion. Construction on a second phase heading east from Fruita is scheduled to begin in the fall. Both phases are fully funded. The third phase closing the gap in the trail is scheduled to begin in 2013 and cost $6.1 million. That portion of the trail will be located so close to the Colorado River users will be able to access the river from the trail. 

Once all three phases of the trail between Grand Junction and Fruita are completed by early 2014, that section of the trail will stretch 21 miles from the Fruita Visitor Center to 27 Road.