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.
“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.
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.