Pedestrians and cyclists can now make a seamless trip along the Animas River Trail from its southern tip to its northern terminus.
The city of Durango held a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by more than 60 people on Wednesday to open the new pedestrian bridge and underpass at 32nd Street. The project connects the river trail to Oxbow Park and Preserve at the northern end of the trail.
“Now we can go from Oxbow Park and Preserve all the way to Home Depot, 9 miles, with no crossing traffic and no interaction with cars. And that is a huge deal,” Melissa Youssef, Durango mayor pro tem, said at the opening.
She said the completion of the bridge and underpass is the latest achievement in the city’s transportation and connectivity efforts.
“This has been an amazing accomplishment for our community, literally decades in the making,” she said. “We all know that the Animas River has been a huge part of our history, past to present. We love it. We flock to it. We want to be on it. And we want access. And our Animas River Trail is, by no means, an exception.”
Ture Nycum, Parks and Recreation director, said the pedestrian bridge and underpass is the project that introduced him to the Durango community when he first took over as director one year ago.
“I got to meet quite a few people from the Animas City neighborhood,” he said. “And we had quite a few get-togethers to talk about this park and what would make it successful. Tree plantings and things like that.”
Nycum and Youssef recognized current and former Parks and Recreation staff members, City Council members and other city officials for their contributions to the project.
The Animas River Trail was born in 1976 with the 29th Street to Demon Bridge connection, Nycum said. The current project was the 49th on the trail completed by the Durango Parks and Recreation Department.
The new pedestrian bridge is 190 feet long and was delivered to the project site in three pieces that were lifted into place by crane. The surrounding park area features 32 trees of 20 different varieties, he said.
The total bridge and underpass project cost $2.7 million with a major contribution from Great Outdoors Colorado of about $1.4 million.
Nycum said GoCo has contributed about $9.1 million to 24 Parks and Recreation projects over 26 years. On Wednesday, he organized a photo with city officials and ribbon-cutting attendees, who shouted, “Thank you, GoCo,” for the camera.
“Cross the bridge. Appreciate the beauty. Recognize how far we have come,” Youssef said. “We understand the importance of our Animas River. And this latest safety connectivity project allows us to make the ripple effects that only a river and access to that river can provide.”