January 3, 1999

Trails: The next 10 years


This year marks the 10th anniversary of the passage of the bond issue that completed two major trails in Lincoln.

The Rock Island Trail from A Street to Old Cheney Road and the MoPac Trail from 33rd to 84th were major additions to the quality of life in Lincoln. Since then several major sections have been added to the system to make 75 miles of trails in Lincoln. In addition, we benefit from two rural trails owned by the Lower Platte Natural Resources District, the MoPac from 84th to Elmwood and the Oak Creek from Valparaiso to Brainard.

Soon we will build the Bison Trail from Van Dorn Park to Pioneers Park and from Tierra Park to Williamsburg. The city, county, NRD, Railroad Transportation District and state governments have been partners, along with grants from the federal government transportation department and individual and corporate donations, in making this possible.

This is just the beginning. Currently there are two primary emphases. One is the completion of connections through the existing urban area of Lincoln, and the other is a master plan for trails in the areas of growth around the city.

We have major connections to build. The goal of the trails system 10 years ago was the connection between the Rock Island, which ends at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus, and the MoPac Trail, which ends at 30th Street.

The upcoming abandonment of the Union Pacific Railroad between 19th and 30th will be a unique opportunity. A bridge planned over 27th at X Street, while costly, will be a grade separation from a most busy street and an amenity to the 27th Street improvements. The project, which will likely cost about $2 million, will provide park amenities in the 27th Street area and for the surrounding neighborhoods. The Great Plains Trails Network is leading a fund-raising drive to raise $400,000 for this project.

The Antelope Valley Project provides for a loop around downtown Lincoln. It will link the existing trails near Lincoln High with the Husker Link, the Dietrich Trail at Holdrege, the Haymarket District and south to G Street that connects back to the Rock Island. On-street routes connecting through the downtown area will be a part of planned improvements.

Plans for a link from Van Dorn Park through the South Salt Creek Neighborhood to the Haymarket and links to Van Dorn Park from the Highway 2 trail need to be constructed. Other links from the MoPac to the Billy Wolfe Trail through neighborhoods such as Trendwood, Wedgewood and Fox Hollow need to be added. Connections in the northeast along Dead Man's Run, in the northwest from the university area via Oak Lake to the Superior Street trail need to be included.

Trails along Salt Creek from Wilderness Park to Boosalis Park need to be constructed as part of the Crescent Green project. Trails along Salt Creek and to the Haymarket from the new baseball complex will establish new links to activity centers.

How do we fund these trails? How do we provide the funds to maintain them?

Although each mile of trail has been adopted for cleanup, snowplowing and maintenance costs remain. Is Lincoln ready to make the commitment to improve our community in this way? Do we need to support a bond issue to complete these projects? Is it too early to make trails accessible to all citizens?

In addition, plans for trails need to be included in the Comprehensive Plan for Lincoln, so that developers and homeowners alike will know where they will be and accept responsibility for including them in the developments. It is more efficient when built into such developments than to go back and build in the already urbanized areas.

It is a major challenge. Where to we go in the next 10 years?

Elaine Hammer is a member of the Great Plains Trails Network and a member of the board of directors of the Lower Platte South Natural Resource District.

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