An operator from Zak Dirt Inc. uses a backhoe loader to dig a section of the new Colorado Front Range Trail-Loveland to Fort Collins Connection along Carpenter Road on June 22.
(Larimer County photo)
Construction crews broke ground on a new concrete trail that will connect Loveland and Fort Collins and each city's extensive paved trail networks.
The 2-mi. Colorado Front Range Trail - Loveland to Fort Collins Connection will be located between Lemay Avenue and Timberline Road on the east side of the cities. From south to north, it will extend from Loveland's Recreation Trail just west of Boyd Lake State Park to the City of Fort Collins' Fossil Creek Trail at Carpenter Road. An underpass already exists under Carpenter Road in anticipation of this new trail.
A partnership among Larimer County, Loveland and Fort Collins will manage the $1.2 million trail that is slated to open in September.
“Loveland is thrilled to be expanding our northern connection of the Colorado Front Range Trail,” said Marilyn Hilgenberg, Open Lands and Trails manager with the city of Loveland. “The synergy of this collaborative trail is a win for all of our communities.”
It is the first paved trail to connect the cities' trail networks. Once completed, people will be able to go from the 35 mi. of paved trails in Fort Collins' system to the 18 mi. of trails in Loveland's system without hopping off their bike or getting in a vehicle. The new trail will be multi-use, open to both foot traffic and non-motorized bicycles.
The two cities first conceived of the idea for the trail in 2002, identifying it as a possible segment of the larger Front Range Trail system, which will extend from New Mexico to Wyoming. The Colorado Front Range Trail - Loveland to Fort Collins Connection remains a potential segment of this larger, statewide trail system, depending on that trail system's final alignment.
“We are very excited to participate in this project. This trail contributes a critical segment of a regional trail network that will someday connect all of northern Colorado, and eventually the entire state,” said Suzanne Bassinger, with city of Forts Collins Park Planning & Development. “We look forward to continuing these partnerships and expanding the world-class trail experiences available to our citizens, our neighbors and our visitors to the area. Our thanks go to Larimer County for leading this project.”
Grants of $450,000 from the Colorado Department of Transportation and $350,000 from Colorado Parks and Wildlife's State Trails Program will cover two-thirds of the trail's cost. The cities and county will make up the difference based on the proportional costs of trail construction within each jurisdiction. Homeowners' associations and other entities that granted easements for the trail also make construction possible.
“We're grateful for the support of the new trail from the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, as well as those who allowed access across their lands for the trail,” said Zac Wiebe, resource specialist of Larimer County Department of Natural Resources. “Paved trails are more than just a recreation amenity. With additional growth forecasted along the Front Range, it's important to provide alternative forms of transportation for people traveling between the two largest cities in the county.”
The Colorado Front Range Trail - Loveland to Fort Collins Connection is one of two paved trails that will link the trail networks in Loveland and Fort Collins. A second trail — the 4.4-mi. Long View Corridor Trail — will be located on the west side of the cities, running along the east side of North Taft Avenue in Loveland and South Shields Street in Fort Collins. It is expected to break ground in the fall of 2017 and will provide a second safe, non-motorized alternative to traveling between the two cities.
For more information, visit www.larimer.org/openlands/regional-paved-trails.htm.