County nets funding to complete construction of Eagle Valley Trail
Paved recreation trail, when completed, will extend from the top of Vail Pass to Dotsero
Last week, Eagle County sold Certificates of Participation with a low interest rate of 1.98% to secure an additional $22 million toward the completion of the Eagle Valley Trail.
The county received a rating of Aa1, with a COP rating of Aa2.
“These extremely high investor grade ratings are reflective of several factors noted in the Moody’s report, including the county’s affluent tax base exhibiting growth, strong operating reserves supported by a conservative management team, a low debt burden and the absence of a pension liability as the county offers a defined contribution retirement plan,” said Eagle County Attorney Bryan Treu. “Also considered is the county’s proactive approach to environmental and social risks, namely water supply, wildfires and affordable housing. Eagle County remains one of the highest rated counties in the state of Colorado.”
Years in the making
The Eagle Valley Trail is the paved recreation trail that extends from the top of Vail Pass to Dotsero, with a planned spur trail from Dowd Junction to Minturn. The unfinished sections of the Eagle Valley Trail include between EagleVail and Dowd Junction, between Dowd Junction and Minturn, between Duck Pond Open Space and Dotsero/Glenwood Canyon, and between Horn Ranch Open Space and Edwards. Once these four segments are constructed, the trail will complete Eagle County’s section of the paved trail system that runs from Breckenridge to Aspen.
Approximately $26.5 million is needed to complete the unfinished portions of the Eagle Valley Trail. The remaining funds will come from various sources, including trail impact fees on new developments, grants, contributions from other public agencies and private donations.
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The latest section of trail to be completed was the 6.7-mile section connecting the town of Eagle with Horn Ranch Open Space, which was opened in 2019. That section of trail, which required a bridge over the Eagle River, cost roughly $7 million and was aided by a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado.
The Eagle Valley Trail will celebrate two new additions in 2021. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday for the new pedestrian bridge in Minturn. The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District led the project with contributions from Eagle County and the town of Minturn.
On Monday, Sept. 13, a new trail will open in the EagleVail Business Center as part of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s road diet and overlay project.
Long term benefit
County officials believe the Eagle Valley Trail project will promote sustainability, economic vitality, and an improved recreational experience for both residents and visitors. The funds for this priority project will not impact pandemic or other emergency spending.
The new certificates of participation funding will allow the county’s ECO Trails Department, which oversees design, construction and maintenance of the Eagle Valley Trail, to design and construct the outstanding sections during the next three years. The Eagle County Trails Committee intends to raise an estimated additional $1 million to $2 million needed to complete the remaining Horn Ranch to Edwards section. Overall, the county is striving to complete the trail by 2025.
“We will need the entire community’s support to finish the Eagle Valley Trail,” said Dick Cleveland, chair of the ECO Trails Committee. “The last section between Horn Ranch and Edwards is among the most complicated, with easements needed, constraints such as Highway 6, the Eagle River and the railroad, and many other considerations. We’ll be seeking funding for that portion from local fundraising to grants, any opportunities we can find.”
Private donations will be handled by the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments Foundation, which is a registered 501c3 meeting the IRS compliance and documentation requirements for private donors to the ECO Trails Eagle Valley Core Trail project. Questions about the project should be directed to ECO Trails staff at firstname.lastname@example.org and questions about donations should be directed to email@example.com.
“The Eagle Valley Trail is an incredible community asset, used by both local residents and visitors. We are committed to finishing the remaining sections of the trail by 2025, to give trail users an uninterrupted trail experience from the top of Vail Pass to the start of Glenwood Canyon,” Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney said. “While many people use all or portions of the trail for recreation, it’s also a valuable route for commuters and people choosing alternative transportation throughout the valley.”
“This project will not only help to complete the Eagle Valley Trail within Eagle County by 2025, it will ultimately connect our section of the paved trail system that runs from Breckenridge to Aspen,” Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry said. “This paved trail spans four counties and connects some of Colorado’s most popular resort communities, providing incredible high country cycling, all without having to ride on roads.”
“We felt it was time to complete the trail as more residents and visitors utilize the trail for personal commuting and recreation,” Commissioner Matt Scherr said. “The outdoor recreation industry is an important part of our economy in the region and in Eagle County, and this will promote not only personal health and well-being, but also zero-emission traveling and the recreation economic sector.”
Information on plans to complete the Eagle Valley Trail and ways to contribute can be found at EagleEounty.us/ecotrails or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Facts and figures about ECO Trails and the Eagle Valley Trail are available at EagleCounty.us/ecotrails/historyandprogramgoals.