At an elevation of more than 8,000’, the Government Trail is a popular 10-mile hiking, biking and cross-country ski trail. The trail alternates between Aspen groves and ski runs. A bridge was needed to carry the trail 175’ above the Maroon Creek Gorge and provide a vital link between the Buttermilk Ski Area and the Aspen Recreational Center. The City wanted a structure sensitive to the environment and one that provided unobstructed views of the Maroon Creek Valley. The bridge had to be strong enough to not only support bikers, hikers and skiers, but the additional weight of snow pack and maintenance vehicles. It also had to be erected without the removal of any of the trees lining the valley.
The alternative most responsive to the project’s constraints was a steel deck arch. At 606’ in length, the bridge features a steel deck arch with a clear span of 406’. When it was built in 2002, it was the longest arch bridge in Colorado and second only in total span length to the Royal Gorge Bridge in Canon City, CO.
Summit Engineering used cable-stayed erection methods for the construction of the arch. Temporary towers were erected with stay cables used to temporarily support the cantilevered construction of the arch progressing simultaneously from both sides of the gorge. This construction method was both economical and responsive to site constraints. With a total price tag of approximately $2.4 million, it was the most economical option.
The key to providing a context-sensitive solution was to provide an architecturally pleasing structure that not only met the purpose of the crossing, but blended into the environment and met the goals of the community. Today, the trail is used by pedestrians, bikes, and Nordic skiers. It has become a vibrant segment of the city’s groomed trail system. In 2013, the trail and the Maroon Creek Pedestrian Bridge were part of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. This was a seven day, seven stage race, traversing the state of Colorado.
“...a sleek design that fits in with the environment and doesn’t distract from the natural beauty of Aspen. - Jeff Mehle, Engineer, Carter & Burgess
Gregg A. Reese, PE (Project Principal)