Scott Belonger, P.E., Leads Otak’s Trails Projects
Colorado-based Scott Belonger P.E. is a trail design manager in the Louisville office who has a long history of conducting trail work in Colorado and other states across the west. While he started his career as a bridge engineer, early on he had an assignment to design a pedestrian underpass in Aspen, Colorado which led to other trail projects for that client. “One of the stand out projects for me was Cemetery Lane Trail in Aspen that included traffic calming features and an extensive 600’ long elevated section built into a hillside. The project made me want to transition from bridges to focus more on trails,” he said.
His skills fit in well with Otak’s work constructing a wide range of projects from backcountry single-track trails to multi-use paved areas in urban cores. “Through his trail work, Scott is making a real difference in the quality of life in Colorado communities. Using Otak’s trademark strength—integrated design—he is producing innovative and creative solutions that his clients and trail users really appreciate,” David Knowles, Otak’s director of transportation business said.
Scott’s trail work is extensive. He currently has ten projects in the design phase and another eight under construction. He says that’s a typical workload. One project that is nearing completion is the Animas River Trail North Extension. Scott began the planning for this trail, a one-mile extension just north of the City of Durango, in 2009. Much of the work is within the narrow Durango and Silverton railroad right of way requiring extensive structures and has involved broad public outreach.
According to Scott, Otak’s largest share of trail work is for designing shared paths for municipalities that are often in constrained right-of-ways and require elements such as bridges, underpasses, and retaining walls. “I personally like to be able to get around without a car so this work is valuable to me because it provides an alternative mode of transportation and recreation” Scott said.
As public awareness of reducing carbon footprints and leading healthier lifestyles grows, having expertise in trail development will serve Otak well for years to come.