There’s an indefinite detour on the South Platte Trail by Vanderbilt Park

Sorry, bikers and walkers, we don’t know how long you’ll have to go around.

The collapsing retaining wall along the South Platte River Trail by Vanderbilt Park. It's on the edge of Denver's Athmar Park neighborhood. Oct. 8, 2020.

The collapsing retaining wall along the South Platte River Trail by Vanderbilt Park. It's on the edge of Denver's Athmar Park neighborhood. Oct. 8, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
KEVIN-lighter

Denver Parks and Rec have known their timber retainers keeping dirt from collapsing onto the South Platte River Trail by Vanderbilt Park have been a problem. Deputy Executive Director Scott Gilmore said the department closed the bike and pedestrian trail south of the Santa Fe Drive overpass about a week ago to bore some holes and check on the soil stability there.

“Clearly that is not very stable, because during the boring the soil shifted and pushed the wall out further,” he told us.

Their attempt to see if the trail was safe made things worse, possibly doing what time and weather would do eventually. Right now, the wooden retaining wall curves over the trail like a Thanksgiving belly over a belt. It doesn’t look like extreme danger, but the infrastructure is now in enough disrepair that Gilmore said he doesn’t know when the trail will reopen.

Here's the official detour, though I suppose you could also stroll through the park.

Here's the official detour, though I suppose you could also stroll through the park.

Source: Denver Parks and Recreation

“We’ve always known this was going to be an extensive section of the trail to improve,” Gilmore said.

He said it could cost as much as $9 million to make a permanent fix, if not more. And doing work in that section of trail is tricky because CDOT has domain over Santa Fe Drive, which speeds by just past the bowing timbers.

Gilmore said the city will begin exploring temporary fixes, but Parks and Rec would really like to do something for the long haul. And it’s not just about a busted wall. The trail there is just 8 feet wide, and Gilmore said 12 feet is really the standard.

The collapsing retaining wall along the South Platte River Trail by Vanderbilt Park. It's on the edge of Denver's Athmar Park neighborhood. Oct. 8, 2020.

The collapsing retaining wall along the South Platte River Trail by Vanderbilt Park. It's on the edge of Denver's Athmar Park neighborhood. Oct. 8, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
The South Platte River Trail is closed by Vanderbilt Park. At the moment, there is no end in sight for the detour. Oct. 8, 2020.

The South Platte River Trail is closed by Vanderbilt Park. At the moment, there is no end in sight for the detour. Oct. 8, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Parks, like every other city department, is wrestling with a recession-era budget. Gilmore said the city has about $3 million allocated to do something, but it could be “challenging” to shore up more cash to get it done.

For now, bikers and walkers will have to cruise Jason Street, on the west side of Vanderbilt Park, and reconnect with the trail where it meets Huron Street. There is no timetable for when they’ll get to return to the river’s edge.

Thanks for reading another Denverite story

Looks like you’re the type of person who reads to the ends of articles! Well, true believer, you might really like our morning newsletter. It’s quick, free and gets you up to speed on the important and delightful things happening right here in Denver. Does Denverite help you feel more connected to what’s up in your area? Do you want to be a part of it?

Member donations are critical to our continued existence and growth.

Weird times

Denverite is powered by you. In these weird times, the local vigilance, the local context, the local flavor — it’s powered through your donations. If you’d miss Denverite if it disappeared tomorrow, donate today.

You’re our superpower

Denverite supporters have made the decision to financially support local journalism that matters to you. Ready to tell your networks why? Sharing our “About” page with your own personal comments could really help us out.

You’re our superpower

Denverite members have made the decision to financially support local journalism that matters to you. Ready to tell your networks why? Sharing our “About” page with your own personal comments could really help us out.