New pedestrian bridge will open more recreational opportunities on Arkansas River in Pueblo

Shanna Lewis/KRCC News
People take an afternoon stroll on the Arkansas River Trail in Pueblo. The bridge links the river trail with a paved path on top of the levee. (Oct 30, 2022)

Construction is getting underway on a new $1.3 million pedestrian bridge across the Arkansas River near downtown Pueblo. The bridge will be the final piece in a nearly mile-and-a-half long walking and biking loop trail, said Corinne Koehler, Pueblo Conservancy District president.

“It really does connect the two sides (of the river) and so that way people have much more access to the levee and to Runyon Lake,” she said.

This is the second bridge that will join the river levee with miles of biking and walking paths on the opposite bank. The paved loop path will run along the top of the levee and connect to the original river trail via this new bridge and a similar one completed last year.

It’ll make it easier for more people to recreate and enjoy the artwork happening on the levee according to Koehler, who noted that there's also a new entrance to the levee from The Grove neighborhood. That's south of downtown and is surrounded by busy roads and railroad tracks. Historically it has had poor access to the river trail.

“People can ride their bikes and hike,” she said. “I've seen many people who sit at the benches underneath the shade structures and have (a) little lunch. (They) can sit and watch the trains, they can watch the water, the birds — there’s just a variety of things to do. It's really nice to turn something that was always quite ugly into a real amenity for the community.”

The new bridge will be narrower than the first one, which was designed to allow emergency and work vehicles to use it. It is expected to be ready for use in February.

Shanna Lewis/KRCC News
People stop at the informational signage near a shade structure along the trail on top of the Arkansas River levee near downtown Pueblo. (Oct 30, 2021)

Koehler said the District is also working with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the City of Pueblo to clean up and improve Runyon Lake and the pathways and fishing around it. She said new gates will be installed soon to help improve safety at night. The area will be open from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily.

The agencies are looking at possible funding sources to replace the damaged docks and CPW plans to keep the lake well stocked because people of all abilities and ages like to fish there, Koehler said. They “find it much more convenient to fish at Runyon Lake than to go out to Lake Pueblo.

All three agencies are also working with Pueblo Water, according to Koehler, to assess what needs to be done to make the Arkansas River safer for a variety of recreational uses, including floating about nine miles all the way from Lake Pueblo east to Runyon Lake. The District and city would also like to create more child-friendly play areas along the river.