DENVER (CBS4) – Cyclists and runners are celebrating some major improvements along the High Line Canal trail. The underpasses at Hampden Avenue and Colorado Boulevard have been open since June, and reaction is overwhelmingly favorable.

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“It’s fantastic,” said Rich Vossler, Regional Manager for the Pedalheads learn-to-ride bike camps.

Vossler spoke to CBS4 at Magna Carta Park. He and a couple of campers had stopped for a snack after a morning of practicing street safe biking.

“The addition of the underpass has opened up new riding areas, new opportunities for safe riding with our young kids,” Vossler explained.

After snack time, the riders headed back to home base using the news underpasses to get there.

“We talk about the change in gears to ride up the inclines, which are very manageable,” Vossler told CBS4.

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The two underpasses are connected by a quarter mile of new trail skirting the edge of Wellshire Golf Course. Before the underpasses were built, the trail ended and users had to navigate across two busy, multi-lane roads to pick it up again on the other side.

“It was definitely kind of a roadblock,” Vossler confirmed.

“We saw a lot of users really view this as a turnaround point,” said Josh Phillips, Director of Planning and Implementation with the High Line Canal Conservancy. “So, this really is breaking down those barriers between communities.”

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Now there is heavy traffic in the underpasses. They are the result of a 7-year project between Arapahoe County and the City and County of Denver. Both jurisdictions are working on another connection, a new underpass is going in at Mississippi Avenue and Parker Road.

“We’re hoping to advance another seven underpasses,” Phillips explained.

The High Line Canal Conservancy is coordinating underpass projects at I-70, Yale, and Santa Fe in addition to the ones at Hampden & Colorado, and Parker & Mississippi.  All the projects are designed to connect the 71-miles of trail and make it more user-friendly.

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The High Line Canal Conservancy is hosting Walk FOR the Canal through Oct. 10 to raise critical funds for maintenance and improvements along the trail. Sign up here, and then walk, bike, run or roll to raise money.  The Conservancy hopes to raise $171,000 through this effort.

Libby Smith