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Cost estimates for Paths to Mesa Verde released

Eight-mile section from Mancos exceeds $10 million; grants will be sought

Construction for an 8-mile section of the 17-mile proposed Paths to Mesa Verde Trail between Mancos and Cortez is estimated to cost between $11 million and $13 million, according to recently released report from Loris and Associates.

The estimate is for the section of the nonmotorized trail from Mancos to Mesa Verde National Park entrance, which is proposed to be built first because the land is more accessible.

That portion of the trail would be built along the south side of the U.S. Highway 160 corridor.

The $13 million estimate is for 10-foot-wide path made with concrete, and the $11 million is for one made with crusher fines. Significant costs include $3.4 million for concrete and $2.4 million for 24,000 square-feet of retaining walls.

To pay for the project, Montezuma County plans to apply for a $10 million grant from the Federal Lands Access Program and a $2 million grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, said James Dietrich, county natural resources director.

A concept paper has been being submitted for the GOCO grant portion, he said, and if accepted, the county will be invited to apply for that grant. Both the federal and state grant applications have a June submission deadline with decisions expected in the fall.

If awarded, the county match for the GOCO grant would be $400,000. Planning work already completed by the county for the trail will count toward the match. About $130,000 in cash for the match is proposed to be split between the county and the town of Mancos.

If successful, the county proposes to use the $2 million GOCO grant as a match for the $10 million FLAP grant. Both grants are administered through the Colorado Department of Transportation.

“This grant combination is a good fit for our project, so we are feeling on track and will keep putting all of our efforts into the final planning and construction phase,” Dietrich said.

The county commissioners submitted a letter of support for the GOCO grant.

“The proposed pathway will benefit local residents and visitors alike by providing a safer off highway route for accessing Mesa Verde and Phil’s World, but it will also take in other local amenities such as the Montezuma County Fairgrounds and the Pueblo Community College,” the letter states.

According to the county, approximately one-third of Montezuma County’s overall economy is tourism-based.

Bicycling in particular has grown exponentially in part because of Montezuma County’s geographic location between Durango and Moab, both of which are internationally renowned bicycling destinations.

“The county is now beginning to emerge as another bicycling destination community as the Phil’s World Trail Park has begun to receive national recognition,” the letter says.

“In addition, the west end of the proposed pathway will terminate at the newly constructed Montezuma-Cortez High School, allowing students to utilize the pathway for cross-country training and other educational outings.”

Cost estimates for the Cortez to Mesa Verde National Park portion of the trail have not yet been determined, and the route is still being studied.

jmimiaga@the-journal.com

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