Kansas Trail News for January 19, 2010 from Sunflower Recreational Trails:
Rail-Trail Building Seminar Scheduled
A “How to Build a Trail” seminar will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday February 6 in the McPherson Public Library located at 214 W. Marlin St. John Purvis and Doug Walker of the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy and others have been invited to present “best practices” for building rail-trails quickly and cheaply despite opposition. Purvis has been building the Landon Nature Trail and Walker has been building the Flint Hills Nature Trail. Central Kansas Conservancy is sponsoring the free seminar which will be held after the SRT meeting (see below).
Sunflower Recreational Trails Meeting Feb. 6
All trails enthusiasts are cordially invited to attend the next meeting of Sunflower Recreational Trails, Inc. at 11:00 a.m. on February 6 in McPherson at Tres Amigos, 121 W. Marlin. Items of discussion include the status of the state’s rails-to-trails program; legislative matters; fundraising, and a possible organization name change. A field trip on the Meadowlark Trail will be held following the meeting.
KC’s Riverfront Heritage Trail Gap Closed
The following editorial was published in the Kansas City Star (1-15-10)
One of Vincent Gauthier’s dream projects opens today, when Kansas Citians on the Riverfront Heritage Trail get a new opportunity to stroll oh-so-close to the Missouri River.
Gauthier, the Port Authority’s executive director, watched large ice chunks flow down the river on Thursday while showing off a long-needed connecting walkway under the ASB Bridge.
“Look, you can almost touch the water,” he said while standing at one of the lookout points on the new pedestrian underpass. OK, the river was actually about 50 to 60 feet away. But it is winter, and the river is low, so during many other months people on the trail near downtown really will be tantalizingly at the water’s edge.
The opening of the $3 million project is a key victory for pedestrians, bicyclists and all other users of the trail. Finally, people headed west from Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park will be able to continue on the pathway to the River Market area. And vice versa.
The project, overseen by the Port Authority and mainly financed by Ameristar Casino funds, will help people get around the gates that for years have kept them off a sliver of property controlled by BNSF Railway where its tracks enter the ASB Bridge. The gates blocked people from full use of the trail.
The underpass includes wide concrete pathways that meet accessibility standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. A small resting area near the tracks will let kids (and their parents) stand just feet away as trains go by on the ASB tracks. Ipe — a light red hardwood from South America — has been used as a decorative railing and a flooring material on parts of the underpass.
Tall, thin black poles hold lamps that will light the trail at night; landscaping will be completed in the spring.
Kansas City’s system of trails still requires major improvements, including construction of hundreds of miles of bike paths. But completion of the ASB trail underpass does provide a crucial connection for an important path in the city.
Topeka Approves Landon Trail Extension
The following is excerpted from the Topeka Capital-Journal (1-13-10)
The council on Tuesday also voted 8-1 to override Mayor Bill Bunten’s veto of the proposed construction of an extension of the Landon Trail. Woelfel dissented, saying he couldn’t justify authorizing the project at a time “when money’s pretty tight.”
The council had voted 8-1 on Dec. 15, with Woelfel dissenting, to approve the project to issue $100,000 in general obligation bonds to build an extension of the trail, with that amount being matched by $429,600 from federal transportation enhancement funds.
Total debt service over 20 years is estimated at $144,389 for the project, which will extend the trail from a point just east of 25th and S. Kansas Avenue north to a location near S.E. 32nd, just west of the Hi-Crest neighborhood.
Bunten vetoed the project Dec. 18. Council members initially considered seeking to override the veto last week but deferred action for one week after legal questions about the trail were raised.
Assistant city attorney Braxton Copley told council members Tuesday he studied the matter and felt convinced the city has a right and a duty to develop the trail.
KRTC president John Purvis, J.D. reports that “The language of the present lease agreement requires development by the city and the assistant city attorney told the council that specifically. He also told them that the Kansas Recreational Trails Act required them to develop the trail also.”
The City is also going to apply for federal Transportation Enhancement funds to do the next section between 34th and 45th Streets. Plus, the City and KRTC are going to revise the current agreement to expand the trail corridor lease to the new city limits at 53rd St. which has a trailhead.
This legislative session is expected to be a contentious one due to the recession triggering budgetary problems (caused by reduced tax revenues). Agencies have already made steep cuts and now parks, recreation, wildlife protection and environmental protection could face additional cuts. During this highly-charged atmosphere, legislative attacks on rail-trails could be used to divert attention away from other issues. So, state officials are recommending that trail groups keep a low profile until May.
Cold/Snow Slows Trail Projects
Several trail construction projects are on hold due to the snow and extremely cold temperatures. In Lawrence, the Burroughs Creek Trail project has been delayed by several months. With the current frost level in the ground, it will be well into spring before it is dry enough for work to resume (construction of the 10-foot-wide concrete path south of 19th Street). However, the City is working on landscape plans for the linear park and park and recreation staff has been discussing signs and an official name for the trail and linear park.
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