Two and a half years after flood waters wiped out the bridge that connects the Red Lion Inn with Boulder Canyon Drive, a new crossing built to withstand a 100-year-flood finally is ready to open.
That bridge, which is scheduled to officially open Jan. 7, also will give hikers, equestrians, snow-shoers and skiers access to a newly opened Chapman Drive Trail that connects Boulder Canyon to Flagstaff Mountain.
The construction of the new bridge was delayed as Chris Mueller, the restaurant's owner, and the city of Boulder wrangled over who would pay for the new bridge, which cost $400,000.
The original bridge was wiped out by high waters in Boulder Creek in June 2010. Boulder County gave permission for Red Lion to put in a temporary bridge with the provision that construction on a permanent bridge begin within six months.
In February 2011, the county filed a lawsuit asking a Boulder judge to close the temporary bridge because work on a new permanent bridge still had not begun.
Mueller submitted plans for a permanent bridge this past spring and reached an agreement with Boulder to share costs after the city was able to purchase the Schnell property and complete its plans to finish the Chapman Drive Trail.
Chapman Drive has been an emergency road connecting Flagstaff Road with Boulder Canyon, but it has not been formally open to the public before.
The city has built a small trailhead parking lot near the bridge and the Red Lion Inn to serve the trail.
Boulder contributed $285,000 and Mueller contributed $115,000 toward the bridge construction, said Jim Reeder, land and visitor services division manager for Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks.
"Our concern was providing safe access to Chapman Drive," Reeder said of the city's decision to share costs with Mueller. "We knew we were going to be putting pedestrians and bicyclists and equestrians onto that road, and we weren't comfortable doing that on a temporary
The city spent an additional $50,000 to restore New Deal-era stone walls along the road, build the trailhead and do some grading along the trail, Reeder said.
For the time being, pedestrians and equestrians -- as well as people using snow shoes and telemark skis -- can use the trail in both directions, Reeder said. Cyclists can go uphill toward Flagstaff Road, but not downhill toward Boulder Canyon.
Dogs are not allowed on the trail for now, Reeder said.
Reeder said Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks will hold meetings with various trail user organizations in the coming months to develop guidelines for the trail, and the rules may change.
For his part, Mueller said he's glad the city found a way to work with him.
"We worked together very well," he said.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or email@example.com.