Bike path plans bringing Dillon, Silverthorne closer together
SUMMIT COUNTY – A year from now, residents might have one less excuse for not riding their bikes to and from Silverthorne.
Last week, the Dillon Town Council approved the sale of a parcel of land to Silverthorne – not to exceed $235,000 – that will be used to connect Silverthorne’s bike path with the path on the Dillon Dam.
“The connection is huge for the town,” said Silverthorne Town Manager Kevin Batchelder. “It allows our residents to connect to the county trail system, which then connects to trails around the county and then even over Vail Pass.”
The land sale is a part of the two towns’ emergency water interconnect and trail connection agreement.
The water connection, which allows Silverthorne, Dillon and Dillon Valley access to one another’s water supplies in the event of an emergency, was completed earlier this fall.
Silverthorne town officials initially hoped to purchase an easement through Dillon’s property at the west end of East Anenome Trail, to connect its bike path along the Blue River to the path that climbs from East Anenome to the top of the dam, Batchelder said.
But Dillon wasn’t fond of that idea, he said, because the easement would have taken up a little more than one-third of the property.
“The size of the easement impacted what you could do with the rest of the property,” Batchelder said. “So we thought we could possibly kill two birds with one stone and put some affordable housing on that property, as well as the bike path.”
Officials changed the course of discussions from an easement to the option to buy the entire lot instead.
The final interconnect agreement included the option for Silverthorne to buy Lot 31 – just less than one acre – from Dillon. Dillon’s approval last week is one of the first steps toward realizing the bike path.
The new portion of the bike path would go from the existing bike path (which runs along the Blue River and under Interstate 70) between the south parking lot of the Silverthorne factory stores and the ballfields, and up the hill to connect with the path that now leads from East Anemone Trail.
That off-road connection is a big improvement for cyclists, who currently must ride – with traffic – through the factory stores or along Highway 6 to East Anemone Trail.
“It’s a great project,” Batchelder said, adding that Silverthorne likely will close on the land in January.
Silverthorne already has completed the design and engineering for the connection. The next step, once Silverthorne buys the land, will be to bid the project, Batchelder said.
“We’re looking at summertime construction,” he said. “I think it’s going to be completed in the next building season.”
The $800,000 project will be funded fully by a combination of Great Outdoors Colorado and federal grants. The town is contributing the land on which the path will sit.
Silverthorne also received a legacy grant from the Colorado Lottery, which officials will use for phase two of the bike path improvements, as well as to develop Cottonwood and Trent parks, Batchelder said. Town officials recently awarded a contract for the design of phase two.
Once both phases of improvements have been completed, Silverthorne’s bike path system will extend from the Dillon Dam to the north end of town, he said.
“This water interconnect and trail connection agreement has worked positively for both (Silverthorne and Dillon) and has enabled us to provide benefits to our residents,” Batchelder said, adding that Dillon town officials have been very cooperative.
Plans for any affordable housing on the land Silverthorne will purchase from Dillon have yet to begin.
“We’ve had preliminary discussions with the Summit Housing Authority, but that is something that is more of a long- term project,” Batchelder said.
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