Katy Trail connection to Jefferson City to become reality

MoDOT recently announced the final public meeting on the Katy Trail-Jefferson City bike/ped connection--a project that has been over a decade in the works:

The Department of Transportation public meeting in Callaway County will be to gather public comment on plans to construct a $7 million pedestrian and bicycle attachment on the east side of the Missouri River Bridge at Jefferson City.

The purpose of the project is to provide a safer connection from the Katy Trail to downtown Jefferson City.

The public may attend the meeting any time between 4-6:30 p.m. at the North Jefferson City Multipurpose Building at 810 Sandstone Dr. in Callaway County. To reach this location, exit U.S. 54/U.S. 63 at Route W and turn left onto Cedar City Drive. From Cedar City Drive turn left onto Fourth Street and then left onto Sandstone Drive (map of meeting location [PDF]). The meeting location is accessible to physically disabled.

Work on the attachment to the bridge could begin in late spring of 2010 and will take about a year to complete. The construction will require lane closures on the bridge. The Main Street ramp to U.S. 54 Eastbound/U.S. 63 Northbound may close for extended periods during construction. Plans for managing traffic during the construction will be discussed at the meeting.

Commuters are encouraged to attend to learn about plans for managing traffic during the construction.

Funding for the $7 million project is coming from the Missouri Department of Transportation, the city government of Jefferson City, Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri State Parks Foundation.

MoDOT and the contractors working on this project have really done an outstanding job of designing it. The initial design looked much less appealing--far narrower and with an ugly chain link fence going all the way up and over the path. Each meeting of the past couple of years, they brought back a design that looked just a little better--and I think you are going to be really pleased with the final result.

The project to create bicycle/pedestrian access across the Missouri River--the only place for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross the river between Boonville and Hermann--has been many years in the making.

The final design is on the east side of the bridge--for a view of the capital building--and includes two wider viewing areas. Access to the bike/ped path on bridge on the south side will be from Clay Street.

The path will descend (via a ramp) immediately on the north side of the river. This gives access to the boat ramp and recreation area on the north riverfront (and also was a major cost savings compared with the other option of continuing the path along the overpass all the way to Cedar City Drive--the cost savings meant the portion of the path across the river could be widened and improved in other ways).

The connection from the north riverfront to the Katy Trail will be made using existing roads and trails. I understand Jefferson City has plans to make a trail connection in that area soon.

Also, the city has funding from the William A Kerr Foundation to connect the Katy Trail to Holts Summit--so within about 18 months a good bicycle/pedestrian connection from the capitol building in Jefferson City all the way to Holt's Summit will be possible.

Options for a 6 foot or 8 foot width for the portion of bike/ped path over the river are still open--which will be built depends on the bids that come in.  Currently competition for projects among contractors is fierce--which means bids are coming in low and there is a good chance the bids for the 8-foot width will come in under the maximum allowed.  If that happens the 8-foot option will most likely be chosen.

(The original proposal for a 5 foot path--and either option is a definite improvement over that!)

If you would like to make a comment in support of the new bridge project, you can do so via MoDOT's online comment form.

What do you think about the proposal for the Katy Trail-Jefferson City connection?  We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section, below.