BV bridge

With grant funding and a collaborative effort between various local partners, a bridge spanning Ingram Creek will afford Bridal Veil Trail users safe passage during high-water seasons. Using a helicopter and ground crews, the 40-foot span will be flown in in pieces Tuesday from 9-11 a.m. and then assembled in the next two days. This rendering shows the bridges location over two large boulders. (Courtesy photo)

The sound of helicopter blades reverberating off the cliff sides at the east end of the valley Tuesday morning will herald the completion of the final element of the Bridal Veil Trail — the installation of a footbridge spanning Ingram Creek. The work will take place from about 9-11 a.m. According to San Miguel County Parks and Open Space director, Janet Kask, the lower portion of the Bridal Veil Trail from the parking area up to the base of the falls will be closed, but the parking lot and K69 will remain open. The contractor will use the area to the west for staging purposes.

Tuesday’s flights will include the placement of four, 40-foot beams, as well as decking, stairs and railing for the new bridge. On-site assembly should be completed in two days, Kask told the Daily Planet.

The construction of the pedestrian bridge comes as a result of a partnership between the county, Telluride Mountain Club (TMC), Idarado Mining and the Town of Telluride. Kask said the project would not have been possible without that collaborative effort, singling out TMC for its efforts.

“By leveraging grant funds to improve safety, accessibility, and recreational opportunities, San Miguel County enhances the quality of life for all of our residents,” Kask said in a news release. “ (TMC) is matching funds and have hired an engineer (Jesse Pekkala) to work on the bridge design. And they’ve been a driving force with fundraising.”

The grant money comes from the Multimodal Options Fund (MMOF) through the State’s Gunnison Valley Transportation Planning Region (GVTPR), which has been allocated $2.3M to be used in the region. MMOF grant funds of $60,000 were awarded for the Ingram Creek Bridge, with $30,000 in matching funds provided by San Miguel County and $30,000 provided by the Telluride Mountain Club, which held a fundraiser for the bridge last fall. The total project is estimated at $120,000.

“We are thrilled that our region was able to secure these grants to further our efforts to expand and enhance local trails,” San Miguel County Commissioner Kris Holstrom said. Holstrom serves on the GVTPR Board and also as a county representative.

Kask is happy the Bridal Veil Trail project is nearing completion.

“This has been a great project from the start,” she said. “It’s exciting it’s coming to fruition,” not to mention affording “stellar views.”

“It’s an iconic bridge on an iconic trail,” Kask added.

TMC president, Josh Borof, also praised the collaborative effort.

“This is a really good example of joint stakeholders working together,” Borof said. “Everybody was involved and played nice together.”

The new bridge will allow hikers to cross Ingram Creek during high-water seasons, such as when the snowpack melts and following summertime monsoonal deluges. Though the past couple springs have been relatively dry, Borof said, during a more normal snow year the creek would be impassable until mid-July.

“We’ve always thought the bridge would be a good idea,” he said.

The new bridge location will divert the trail slightly from its current alignment along the Bridal Veil Trail. Constructed in 2019, the trail has proven wildly popular, especially in 2020, when visitors, hungry to get outside after the pandemic-enforced lockdown, descended on the trail. Borof and Kask said that approximately 80,000 hikers were logged. Numbers have been down a bit this year, according to Borof.

The new bridge is not the only recipient for MMOF funding. The Down Valley Connector Trail, a proposed, 3.4-mile trail that would add a necessary link between the Down Valley and satellite communities and Telluride, was awarded $75,000 for a grant/feasibility study. The county will provide a match of $75,000 with a total project estimate of $150,000.

According to a county news release, there are many challenges with this trail project including, but not limited to, the physical grade of land, along with private property and the need to obtain recreational trail easements. If the feasibility study proves successful, the Down Valley Connector Trail would provide safe passage for pedestrians and cyclists from the Down Valley Park through Sawpit to the M59 trail to and from Telluride.

For more information, please contact Kask of San Miguel County Parks & Open Space at 970-369-5469.