Downtown Evergreen now has a river walk — or river ride if you’re a bicyclist — that allows safe access on Independence Trail from Highway 74 to Church of the Transfiguration.
The project, which took less than three months to complete, is the first for the Evergreen Local Improvement District, and ELID officers promise there are more projects to come. ELID hosted a ribbon cutting to celebrate the RiverWalk’s completion on Oct. 12.
The road has been striped to make it one way, going from west to east with a striped pedestrian/bicycle lane. At the west end, five parking spaces have been added, and on the east end, a sidewalk has been installed.
The RiverWalk connects Church of the Transfiguration, JP Total and Highland Haven with the rest of downtown Evergreen, providing safer access for walkers and bicyclists, and Independence Trail runs right along Bear Creek.
The project was paid for by $13,500 in funds and in-kind donations from the Evergreen Legacy Fund, which funds ELID projects, and a $135,000 grant from CDOT’s Revitalizing Main Streets grant program. Jefferson County Transportation & Engineering was responsible for the project.
“This is an amenity to downtown Evergreen,” said Dean Dalvit, president of the Evergreen Economic District, and he explained that having a local improvement district approved by Jeffco commissioners has opened the door for grant opportunities, so the 17 projects that the ELID board identified to improve access and safety throughout Evergreen can be done faster.
For the businesses who have collected the 1% Evergreen Legacy Fund voluntary fee for five years, the RiverWalk shows them that the money is being well spent to improve Evergreen, Dalvit said.
“(The businesses) were collecting funds on pure faith,” he added, noting that county commissioners approved the formation of the ELID in July 2020.
According to the grant application, once this project is completed, ELID hopes to work further with CDOT to add safe crossings to Upper Meadow Drive and safe bike/pedestrian routes into downtown Evergreen on Highway 74.
Nancy Judge, president of the Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce, called the RiverWalk another amenity to get the public to area businesses.
“It’s always a good thing for downtown businesses to get more exposure,” she added.
Gail Riley, owner of Highland Haven Creekside Inn and a member of the ELID board, said she couldn’t be more gratified by the project, explaining it’s been an instant success for pedestrians and bicyclists who can safely traverse what had been a narrow, two-way road.
“Everything (ELID) works on is for the sake of the community,” Riley said. “My hope is that all appreciate the beauty and safety this RiverWalk provides.”