The future of the Rio Grande Trail has art

Apr 13, 2016

The Rio Grande ArtWay project is seeing results already.
Credit Patrick Fort / Aspen Public Radio

A section of the Rio Grande Trail in Carbondale is getting a bit of a makeover. Flowers and hops have been planted. Invasive tree species removed … And now art is being added. That’s part of the new Rio Grande ArtWay plan that was unveiled last night. It’s part of a project to update a section of the trail with art and signage that help point users toward businesses and art centers.


“We have 85000 trail users in Carbondale,” said Brett Meredith. He helps maintain trails for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. “ A lot of those are locals but we do have visitors through the summer. You always get asked where’s this restaurant? Where’s this art space? Those wayfinding signs are going to help get people to those cool hubs.”


Those wayfinding signs are just one step in upgrading a stretch of the Rio Grande Trail that runs from Highway 133 to where Snowmass Drive meets Main Street.


New plants like native berries are being planted along the trail as well.


Art is also a big part of it. The reason that all of this is happening is because Carbondale is still beefing up its art amenities ahead of its formal Creative District application later this month. If the town is selected, it will be eligible for state funding to improve infrastructure for the arts.


Amy Kimberly is the executive director of the Carbondale Council on Arts Humanities. She’s spearheading all of this buildup and is cautiously optimistic about the rest of the growth going forward.


“Just through grassroots efforts, there are some things going on,” said Kimberly. “But these bigger projects, as soon as I find the funding, they are going to happen.”


Riding up and down the path, it’s not too hard to imagine what a fully completed Art Way looks and feels like. There’s already paintings and sculptures along the fence where the hops will grow. And signs will point to places like the Roaring Fork Beer Company and Dos Gringos Burritos.


Brett Meredith uses the trail every day to get to work. He used to be a civil engineer in Denver, but has enjoyed getting his hands dirty working on this project.


He’s worked with Kimberly closely on developing it.


“I don’t know how it all started,” said Meredith. “I can’t remember the conversation exactly, but we’ve come to this and we’re starting to move forward.


The project will start showing real results later this year.