Grant to help close gap in east metro area's paved trail system

GOCO awards $2 million for High Plains Trail connector project

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A $2 million grant from Great Outdoors Colorado will help Arapahoe County close a significant gap in the Denver area's paved trail system. The funding is part of GOCO's Connect Initiative, which aims to fill trail gaps, build new trails and improve access to recreation across the state.

According to a news release, the trail will safely and directly connect thousands of residents to the larger Denver trail network, including the High Plains Trail and Cherry Creek Regional Trail. It was proposed as a way to enhance recreation opportunities in the eastern Denver metro area.

The easternmost portion of the High Plains Trail is under construction, and the grant will fund the trail's western expansion and connection with the Cherry Creek Regional Trail. Seven miles of the High Plains Trail run along E-470, but the existing trail is relatively isolated from the rest of the metro trail network, the release said. The new one-mile connection will divert away from the highway and cross through what will be the Kings Point and Kings Point South housing developments in Aurora along the Arapahoe and Douglas County line.

At Norton Farms Open Space and 17 Mile House Farm Park, users will connect with the Cherry Creek Regional Trail. From there, users can follow the trail north to open spaces and Cherry Creek State Park, or head south toward the existing Centennial Trail, which then connects to Chatfield State Park and other major recreational amenities.

“What really makes this project unique is the diverse set of partners and funding sources that are combining to make this regionally significant trail connection a reality,” Jeff Baker, Arapahoe Board of County Commissioners chair, said in the news release.

This project has strong support from partners Douglas County, the Town of Parker, the City of Aurora, E-470 Public Highway Authority, DRCOG, Kings Point developers, the Colorado Department of Transportation, and several cycling organizations, among others.

Design for this trail segment will continue through 2020. Construction and a grand opening are slated for 2021.

To date, GOCO has invested more than $31.6 million in projects in Arapahoe County and conserved more than 2,300 acres of land there. GOCO funding has supported Sheridan Inspire and GoWild Northeast Metro, two Generation Wild communities, as well as the Mary Carter Greenway East Bank Trail, the High Line Canal, and the renovation of Nome Park, among other projects.

Great Outdoors Colorado invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state's parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO's independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Created when voters approved a Constitutional amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,200 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.

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