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Archive for Sunday, February 2, 2014

City seeking grant money to build new hike and bike trail through downtown, East Lawrence

February 2, 2014

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City officials are hoping to win $750,000 in state grant money to build a new hike and bike trail through downtown and East Lawrence.

City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will apply for the grant that would start where the Burroughs Creek Rail Trail ends near Hobbs Park and end at Constant Park near Sixth and Tennessee streets.

"It is going to be fantastic," said local architect Mike Myers, who has been lobbying for the project. "I like to think of this as kind of a pedestrian and bicycle super highway."

The trail would take a unique route in that it is proposed to go underneath the Kansas River bridges in downtown Lawrence. That route will allow pedestrians to get to Robinson Park, a small pocket park near the southern end of the bridges, without having to cross either Sixth or Massachusetts streets.

City officials have been interested in providing better access to Robinson Park. The park houses Founders Rock, a monument that lists the names of 143 founders of the city who came here from Massachusetts in 1854. City officials also have said a scenic river overlook could be built at the park, if future funding becomes available.

The trail also is proposed to run by the Warehouse Arts District and recently renovated Poehler Lofts building at Eighth and Delaware streets, and adjacent to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Depot at Seventh and New Jersey streets. The depot, which is scheduled to be renovated, would provide parking, restrooms and other services for trail visitors.

City officials also are touting that the new trail section would make it easier for pedestrians in southeast Lawrence to access downtown. The new trail would connect with the Burroughs Creek Trail, which connects to the Haskell Rail trail which ends near 31st Street and Haskell Avenue. Once the South Lawrence Trafficway is completed near 31st and Haskell, pedestrians also will have access to the extensive SLT trail system, which will run the entire length of the trafficway.

City officials will learn later this year whether they have been awarded the grant. The city is proposing to spend about $250,000 in local funds as part of the project.

Comments

Charlie Bryan 2 months, 1 week ago

It should also be noted the funding for this grant actually comes from federal dollars - the Highway Trust Fund, which is primarily funded with highway-user taxes (such as the 18.4 cent per gallon federal tax on gasoline). KDOT administers the grant program.

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Chris Tilden 2 months, 2 weeks ago

It is important to know that the grant for which the city is applying is a "Transportation Alternatives" grant. These grants are awarded through the state Department of Transportation to promote forms of transportation other than automobiles. This proposed trail is one part of an ever-growing system of trails, "complete streets" and other infrastructure designed to make walking or biking a true alternative to the personal automobile.

For the first time since the advent of the car, per capita automobile mileage among U.S. citizens is declining. Young people, in particular, are driving less and using public transportation or "active transportation" like walking and cycling to get to work, school, shopping, cultural and historical amenities and other priority destinations. Lawrence is wise to compete for these grant dollars (which are available to any town in Kansas through the competitive grant process) to help build a more walkable community.

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Beator 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Will the trail get me through the "food desert" quicker? I'm hungry.

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Carolyn Simpson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree with the above comment. I think the idea of expanding the trail is a wonderful idea. However, it is not an essential function of state government. Local government should fund such projects. Wouldn't the $750,000 in state finds for this project, and perhaps the millions more for similar projects be better spent properly funding the education of our children as required by our constitution?

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John Graham 2 months, 2 weeks ago

This is a prime example of what is wrong with government. There is absolutely no reason why the state government should be involved in funding this project. If the citizens of Lawrence want to spend their city tax dollars on this be it for the citizens use or as a ridiculous scheme to attract tourists, let the citizens of Lawrence vote for it and alone pay for it. The rest of the citizens of the state should not have the state waste their state tax dollars on such a nonessential project that will be of benefit to an extremely small number of people that will actually use it. This happens all the time that cities (not just Lawrence) are wanting state or federal tax dollars for nonessential items that the city should pay for itself. This is why Federal and state taxes are too high, wasted monies spent by government officials for a pet project that is nonessential and benefits a limited number of people. Now if Lawrence gets "free money" for this project then why not give similar state funds to all cities in the state for needless projects. There can be a whole lot of wasted state tax dollars given away. If we are lucky maybe we can get the Feds to waste some federal tax dollars on this as well. A few years ago, the city of St Louis got the Feds to give them several million tax dollars to pay for a fountain to be built as a beautification project for the city. I know I am glad my federal tax dollars helped pay for that and many more such wasteful uses of my tax dollars.

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Lawrence Morgan 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Chad, why don't you have a map of all the bike trails currently used and the bike trails planned, so we can see them all together. I'm not a mapmaker or I would do it. I'd like to get the whole picture, not only of Lawrence but the rest of the state (in separate maps) as well.

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