Monday, November 5, 2012

Construction Begins on $9.2 Million Bike Path

One of the nation’s most bicycle friendly communities is about to become even more welcoming to those on two wheels.

Construction starts Monday on a $9.2 million project to build a transit hub at the intersection of U.S. 191 and state Route 128 as well as a multi-use path along the Colorado River adjacent to SR 128. The transit hub will include parking, shade shelters and restroom facilities.

When completed in late summer or fall of 2013, there will be an underpass for bicyclists to access an existing paved path into Moab along U.S. 191 without having to dodge traffic on SR 128, county officials said. The underpass will connect Lions Park on the north side of SR 128 with the new transit hub on the south side.

In addition, bicyclists funneling down from several trails in the Porcupine Rim area onto SR 128 won’t have to share the narrow road with vehicles. The project will provide elevated paths on the river side of the road to keep bikers and pedestrians safe along the first three miles of SR 128 to the Negro Bill Canyon trail head.

Schappert wrote the grant applications that secured federal funding for the entire project. No state or local funding is being used, she said.

The transit hub will have a parking area large enough to accommodate commercial shuttle buses and vans dropping off or picking up clients as well as parking for individual vehicles. As part of a different funding package, Lions Park will get a large restroom, more parking and a covered picnic area, according to the design plans.

While there may be some economic benefit to the community from the enhanced biking facilities, Grand County Council member Chris Baird emphasized that increased safety is the prime consideration. He said hundreds of mountain bikers ride down from Porcupine Rim each day during tourist seasons and they’ll no longer be in danger on SR 128.

Project engineer Ken Davis said elevated paths will not have to be constructed all along the almost three-mile stretch of SR 128 from U.S. 191 almost to Negro Bill Canyon. Instead, some areas with existing wide turnouts will be utilized as bike paths. But where there is no available space, the raised platforms he calls “pedestrian bridges” will be installed on concrete columns between the river and the road.

Schappert said Horrocks Engineers gave “extensive attention to aesthetics” in designing the project. The design includes guardrails, retaining walls and other infrastructure that blends in with the landscape, she said. Times-Independent