What’s going on with Meadowlark trail? Is this soft surface trail being paved? We asked Boulder County Parks & Open Space and here is their reply:

“Thank you for sharing your concerns. It’s helpful for our Parks & Open Space department to hear from all different perspectives as we balance management decisions. We understand concerns about changing the character of the trail and this was one of many factors taken into account with this project.

We also want to start by acknowledging that the large machinery being used has raised a few questions. It is a paving machine that is typically used for paving asphalt or concrete-type materials but in this case, we use it to lay soft surface materials evenly. The trail will remain a soft surface, but use a recycled road material instead of the current engineered crusher fines material. We have seen the characteristics of the recycled road material resemble more of a gravel road over time and anticipate that to happen with this trail. If you look at the Coalton trailhead parking lot as a reference, this was redone with the recycled road material and it has held up better over time while still providing a look and feel that is much rougher than concrete or paved asphalt.

Our trails staff have made significant repairs to the Mayhoffer-Singletree & Meadowlark trail system every couple of years since 2013. Large weather events in the area continue intensifying and occurring more frequently over this time. Each one of these large weather events has caused repairs that take significant staff time and budget away from other high-priority trail work across the system. With this year’s storm events causing some of the worst and most costly repairs yet, we do not have the resources to continue to repair such damage each year.

We considered a variety of options for improving the surfacing of the trail ranging from large sections of concrete to a product called StayLoc that was used at the Chautauqua location. StayLoc and other materials were removed from consideration due to the bike and equestrian use. Having already converted other sections of trail in the area from crusher fines to recycled road material, it provides a rougher, less flat/paved experience that is closer to roadbase while binding better to reduce erosion from storm events.

The trails staff have used this recycled road material on sections of trails that have been washed out multiple times and have had positive results with minimized maintenance. We have also constructed a 5-mile trail with the material on an irrigated property (Lagerman Agricultural Preserve) where water issues were of concern and have seen minimal maintenance issues. The Lagerman property is similar in characteristics to the properties near Superior, with rolling hills and a history of agriculture. We have tried other improved surface materials such as stabilized crusher fines in other steep locations and found that it holds up better, but over time it needs to be replaced and it is a costly product. We feel that we would have had similar issues with the roadbase material as we have had significant washouts on the narrow section of the Mayhoffer-Singletree trail heading west towards 66th St (we won’t be changing that material). We don’t make these decisions on a whim, we try different materials in challenging locations and make decisions so we are utilizing staff and resources the most efficiently and minimize future maintenance.”

Still have questions? posinfo@bouldercounty.org

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