Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jennifer Simms

New trail connects LOBO to IBM


Photo by Andrew Barth This new segment of the IBM Connector Trail, built by Boulder County Transportation, connects 63rd Street to Highway 119.

Since a trail priority study in 2003 identified the need for a Longmont-to-Boulder (LOBO) regional trail system, Boulder County has worked to link 12 miles of trails through south Longmont, Niwot, Gunbarrel, and northeast Boulder. In May, the county will open the LOBO’s newest segment, the IBM Connector Trail.

“One of the biggest things we wanted to accomplish was to enhance the safety of cyclists and pedestrians trying to reach Tom Watson Park, Coot Lake and Boulder Reservoir from the east side of Highway 119/Diagonal,” explained Andrew Barth, communications director for Boulder County Transportation.

When complete, the IBM Connector Trail will connect Gunbarrel’s Cottontail Trail, near the Gunbarrel Tech Center, with the Coot Lake trail system on the west side of State Highway 119.

Trail construction has involved several phases. The western portion was completed first, and included a pedestrian crossing at 63rd Street, new trail between 63rd Street and Highway 119, and two underpasses under the highway.

“The underpasses were an existing culvert to carry flood waters if Dry Creek were to get inundated with a flood. We enhanced them with lights and increased the structural capacity to make them safe for a long time,” Barth said.

In addition, Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP), which is a partner on the project, built two bridges for the trail across Dry Creek, a waterway that runs from Boulder Reservoir and continues through Niwot.

The east portion of the trail is being completed this spring, and will go under the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad track. “This is the slower part,” Barth said, explaining that extra care needed to be taken to ensure the structural integrity of the railroad underpass. From there, new trail will lead to a community path and then the Cottontail Trail, which is part of the LOBO trail system.

Funding for the $2.3 million IBM Connector Trail project came from several sources. A federal grant, through CDOT, provided $431,000. Boulder County provided an additional $1.7 million from funds specifically earmarked for multi-modal transportation improvements, such as trails. The City of Boulder contributed $200,000 to the project, and the city will own and maintain the trail once it is completed.

“We are certainly pleased and excited to work on a project like this and thank Boulder County for their efforts and including us on this project,” said Boulder OSMP spokesperson Phillip Yates. Opening day for the trail is currently scheduled for May 16, 2017."


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