Location: Kansas

Kansas Trail News: January 7, 2014

Kansas Trail News for January 7, 2014, via Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy:

Bear Bridge Proposed To Extend Haskell Rail-Trail

Trail and wildlife conservation advocates in Lawrence have proposed building a “bear” bridge over the South Lawrence Trafficway now being built in the Haskell-Baker Wetlands. A “bear” bridge is “widely used in Canada and Europe to provide a passageway above the roadway. Landscaped with rocks and natural vegetation screens, it enables larger critters to cross, especially after dark. Day hikers and bicyclists cross safely, too”. Uni Daily Kansan, Nov. 18, 2013).

A bear bridge would allow the 2.5 mile Burroughs Creek Trail/Haskell Rail-Trail to be extended to the Wakarusa River. This would allow not only wildlife to cross between the Haskell and Baker wetlands, but for pedestrians and bicyclists to reach the Wakarusa River. Advocates will have to convince KDOT to adopt this proposal.

Rails-With-Trails Takes Off

Next on the horizon is an idea we’re calling “rails-with-trails.” Rails-with-trails feature a safe path for walking and biking alongside an existing, active railroad track. Although it might seem unusual, more than 167 rails-with-trails already exist in the U.S. and RTC is now completing a new year-long study of the benefits and challenges of rails-with-trails. Already, our research is showing great promise for rails-with-trails.

  • These paths can improve safely, by creating dedicated paths for cyclists and pedestrians and thereby eliminating existing incentives to unsafely use tracks.
  • Rails-with-trails show communities to create great multi-use trails in areas that have limited existing open space for trails, by wisely using existing resources.
  • Rails-with-trails offer the same health, transportation, environmental and recreational benefits as corridors converted from unused railways.

(Excerpted from a November, 2013, letter from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.)

Review Of Kanza’s Annual Meeting

Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy held its annual meeting in Osage City on November 23 with over 60 people in attendance. Rusty spike awards were given to KDWPT and Governor Brownback for their outstanding support of the Flint Hills Nature Trail. Friend of the Trail awards were given to Richard Porter and Mike Kuhn who go beyond the call of duty in maintaining trail sections. Below are the highlights of the keynote address by Linda Craghead, Assistant Secretary of KDWPT:

  • Everyone is a potential ally in trail-building. Stop preconceived notions of others and search for what we have in common. View everyone as a potential supporter of trails.
  • Tourism is now the third largest industry in the Sunflower State.
  • The key is to promote the Kansas experience (especially the Flint Hills). For example, 80% of Americans have never seen the Milky Way (except the candy bar). Many have never experienced the tallgrass prairie or farm life and are pleasantly surprised when they do.
  • A Kansas Parks Foundation will be established soon. Large contributions from corporations, individuals and other entities will provide for its endowment. Some of the funds will be made available for trails.
  • Governor Brownback would like to participate in a trail ride in June, possibly on National Trails Day.
  • KDWPT Secretary Jennison has started riding the Shunga and Landon Trails with his family and this has led him to understand the significance of the Landon Trail and rail-trails in general.
  • It may be possible to use a lease program to make abandoned (and not railbanked) railroad corridors available to the public. This is much like the “Walk-in Hunting Access hunting lease program where landowners are paid by KDWPT to open up their land for hunting by the public.

Consultants for the engineering firms hired for the $2.4 million FHNT project made brief presentations on the process for building the trail. There will be considerable opportunities for public input early next year. The goal is to have everything ready for construction by June with a set deadline by Sept. 2014. The High Trestle Trail in Iowa is now a destination place because of creative nighttime lighting on the trestle. It might be possible to create something on the Flint Hills Nature Trail to make it more of a destination. For more information see osagecountyonline.com.

Pedestrian Bridge Over Kaw Proposed

Lawrence’s Cultural District Task Force made nine recommendations in its new final report presented to the Lawrence City Commission on December 10, one of which relates to rail-trails.

The report includes nine recommendations, including one that could provide a new connection between North Lawrence and the rest of the city. The report recommends several infrastructure improvements in the district, including the idea of extending the Burroughs Creek Trail — which currently ends near 11th and Haskell — into downtown and across the Kansas River into North Lawrence.

Former city commissioner and task force member Bob Schumm said the City Commission may be entering a natural time period to consider the project. In the coming years, the city will be running a new city waterline across the Kansas River from North Lawrence to connect to the business park that is being constructed at the former Farmland Industries site in eastern Lawrence.

Schumm said the city could consider hanging the waterline from a pedestrian bridge rather than burying the line beneath the river. “I don’t know yet what the cost differences may be, but I think it is an idea worth considering,” Schumm said.

(Excerpts from Lawrence Journal-World 12-10-13)

Rail-Trail Organizations Receive Sunflower Grants

  • The Central Kansas Conservancy will build upon the success of the rail-trail extending north from McPherson by adding 3.25 miles of limestone gravel stretching south from Lindsborg on the Meadowlark Trail. A possible future trail addition would link the two towns. The dollar for dollar matching grant will help connect the 2.5-mile Volkcommen Trail in Lindsborg with the Meadowlark Trail.
  • Marshall County Connections, Inc. will complete the Kansas portion of the Blue River Rail Trail, named one of the “Top 10” rail-trails in the country by American Trails. The final 4.2 miles will finish an 11 mile stretch from Marysville, which will then connect to the Homestead Trail in Nebraska. The Homestead Trail itself is nearing completion and will allow Marysville trail users to travel all the way to Lincoln, NE.
  • The City of Kingman (Kingman County) will illuminate a 1.1 mile walking path which stretches from the school to a wildlife setting near the river channel, thus providing more opportunities for early morning and evening exercise. It is unclear if this is a rail-trail or not. The City applied for railbanking for a 2.5-mile stretch of a out-of-service rail line in 2000, but it unclear if they consummated the transaction.

Rail-Trail Project To Start In Late Fall

Due to construction on the South Lawrence Trafficway, construction on the Haskell Rail-Trail will be delayed until late fall officials say. Below are excerpts from a Lawrence Journal-World article (12-31-13):

“The new concrete trail will tie into the existing Burroughs Creek Trail which stops at the 23rd Street overpass next to Haskell Indian Nations University. The new trail will run along the eastern edge of campus, following the path of the existing gravel trail.”

“The new trail, when combined with the existing Burroughs Creek Trail, will provide a continuous path from about 11th and Haskell in East Lawrence to 29th and Haskell in south Lawrence. The new trail will only be about two to three blocks shy of connecting with the new trail that will be built along the South Lawrence Trafficway.

“Mark Hecker, the city’s assistant director for Parks and Recreation, said the city is likely to look for grant funding to connect the two trails. Once that connection is made, the city will have a continuous trail from 11th and Haskell all the way around southern Lawrence, into west Lawrence and ending at the Lecompton turnpike interchange in far northwest Lawrence.”

“’It is going to be great,’ Hecker said. ‘The big trail loop around the city certainly is getting closer.’”

Kansas Trail NewsKansas Trail News is published by Clark H. Coan, Public Information Specialist for Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc. and Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, P.O. Box 44-2043, Lawrence, KS 66044, 785-842-3458. Reprinted with permission. If you have any trail news you’d like to share, please contact us.

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

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