The city will collect feedback from residents Monday regarding the future route of the citywide trail system that will travel through several neighborhoods near the core of the city.
The Lawrence Loop trail is now more than 75 percent complete, and the city is conducting an alignment study regarding two gaps in the trail that will travel through downtown, East Lawrence and northern Lawrence.
Funding for the two incomplete sections in the loop hasn’t been determined yet, but Senior Transportation Planner Jessica Mortinger said the route the trail would take needs to be identified. At the end of the study, Mortinger said they’ll have a final, preferred alignment.
“We’ve never really explored the feasibility of constructing in some of those alignments,” Mortinger said. “And so this is really looking at opening the conversation to the neighbors and the community at large to talk about what routes are most desirable in that alignment.”
Once it is complete, the Lawrence Loop will provide a continuous 22-mile trail around the city limits and have various connector trails linking it to neighborhoods. The city has been adding sections steadily to the trail since the first section was completed nearly 20 years ago.
One of the incomplete sections of trail, often called the downtown leg, would run between the north end of the Burroughs Creek Rail Trail along 11th Street to the Burcham Park trail. The other gap, the northern leg of the trail, would connect the west side of the Sandra Shaw Trail, near Lawrence Memorial Hospital, to the Peterson Road trail.
Mortinger said the meeting Monday is the first step in the study. She said once initial public feedback is gathered, an analysis will be done regarding the potential routes, which could require aspects such as right-of-way and intersections with railway crossings. Once several route options are determined, there will be another chance for input, she said.
“Then we plan to go back out to the public through another meeting and an online poll to solicit input then about preference of the options that turn out,” Mortinger said.
It’s expected the final report will be completed in September, after which it will go to planning and transportation boards for review. Eventually, a proposal would be sent to the City Commission. Although there is no funding identified at this time, Mortinger noted that having the route set will likely help the city’s attempts to secure transportation grants to fund the trail.
The open house for the Lawrence Loop Alignment Study will be 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St. There is no formal presentation, and people may stop in anytime. Those unable to attend may contact David Hamby at 749-4474, extension 2106, to provide input.