Local cyclists' long-imagined, fully-connected trail wrapping the heart of Colorado Springs is closer to reality.
Managers of the Legacy Loop project presented Phase One plans Thursday morning to the Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services board, the final step in a yearlong public process before plans can be finalized and contracts awarded.
Construction of the 10-mile Legacy Loop, a way to ride, run or walk around greater downtown without using a road, will begin in the fall.
"It's a long-term plan still being put together, and we have to look for funding for some of the elements, but we do have funding for some now," Sarah Bryarly, city parks project manager, said after the presentation. "And now we can get those elements on the ground and people can start using them and getting excited."
With $3.2 million from Great Outdoors Colorado, the city's Trails, Open Space and Parks program and the Pikes Peak Transportation Authority, project managers are eager to give the Legacy Loop an identity, to be established at a trailhead they're calling Legacy Plaza.
A consultant on Thursday showed drawings of a transformed parking lot off Interstate 25 at West Fontanero Street. The lot, long owned by Colorado Springs Utilities and currently blighted, will have 100 parking spaces, and the renderings showed colorful shade sails beside a building for restrooms and storage. Planners envision the lot becoming a bustling event space and the central gathering place of Legacy Loop users.
From Legacy Plaza, users can ride or run along an adjacent dirt path south into Monument Valley Park toward downtown and continue along the Pikes Peak Greenway. Phase One construction also includes more than 2 miles of 12-foot-wide concrete trail atop that dirt path. Similar trail improvements are planned on the loop trail during the next three years.
Central to the importance of the Legacy Loop is connectivity. Phase One focuses on the northern section at Templeton Gap Road where the Legacy Loop will connect a major east-west trail, the Rock Island Trail, with a major north-south trail, Shooks Run Trail.
Phase One also includes building trails at three underpasses as well as a 100-foot-long bridge across Mesa Creek. The parks board on Thursday was shown elaborate concepts for signs that not only would serve to direct users but give the Legacy Loop a strong identity.
Meanwhile, local bike advocate Allen Beauchamp will be working in eight downtown neighborhoods to build awareness of the project. He was hired by the Trails and Open Space Coalition this month to administer a $115,000 "place activation" grant awarded earlier this summer. The grant, from the Colorado Health Foundation, will fund programs intended to get more people on their bikes using the Pikes Peak Greenway.
Beauchamp wants to identify ride leaders in the neighborhoods along with convenient routes to the trail system. He plans on starting a neighborhood ride series.
"What we're trying to show in the grand scheme is how well-built trails can connect communities," he said.
Contact Seth Boster: 636-0332