Cracks began to appear along a 40-foot section of asphalt some time after the May 31 ceremony. There are also signs of erosion on the adjacent slope above the river, according to Grand County Council Administrator Ruth Dillon.
When county officials spotted the damage, they temporarily closed a stretch of the popular pathway just east of the Goose Island Recreation Site. They only reopened the blocked-off section on June 30, after a county-hired engineer assured them that it was safe to do so.
Dillon said that officials acted because they were concerned about the stability of the ground underneath the pathway.
“We roped it off thinking, ‘Gosh, it could fall off,’” she told the Grand County Council on July 1.
The ropes didn’t come down until Horrocks Engineering principal Dave Dillman could personally inspect the site.
“We closed it because we were being overly cautious until we could get a hold of him,” Dillon told The Times-Independent.
Dillman determined that the cracked section of trail is safe, but he couldn’t explain what caused the damage, Dillon said.
“Of all the paved path areas along the river, this was the area of least concern because it’s higher up,” he said, according to Dillon.
Everyone else is just as puzzled by the sudden appearance of the cracks, Dillon said.
“This all happened so fast,” she said.
Dillon said that she and other county officials have speculated that above-average river flows or conditions on the ground at the time of construction might be to blame. But they have no clear idea of what’s actually happening, she said.
“It was all just conjecture,” she said. “It’s baffled the engineer.”
Dillman suggested that the county should hire a third-party geotechnical services consultant to find out what happened, and to recommend possible steps the county could take to repair the damage.
Dillon estimates that the geotechnical work will cost about $2,500.
“That’s about their minimum,” she said.
As of press time this week, Grand County Clerk Diana Carroll was still waiting to hear if grant funds could be used to pay for that work.
“I think it will depend on what caused the damage,” Carroll said July 2.