A Break from Detours?
In the fall issue of FastTimes I lamented the long delays in completion of two construction projects—the Penny Bridges at Sheridan, which blocked the Rock Island Trail, and the Billy Wolff do-over on the north side of Capitol Parkway and 27th. The very day FastTimes appeared, the barriers came down on the Rock Island and shortly thereafter the Billy Wolff reopened. But things never seem to work out as we would wish. The promised improvement to drainage under the Penny Bridges did not materialize, requiring two separate drainage projects. All seems well now. Then in late spring the Natural Resources District began a major project to improve drainage and stabilize the banks of the Antelope Creek on the south side of Capitol Parkway, requiring another lengthy closure.
With construction projects, especially those requiring road or trail closures, Lincolnites often wonder why these things can’t be coordinated. In this case two separate agencies are involved with different funding and schedules. But now this project seems to be finished, and the Billy Wolff has reopened. And on the plus side, runners using the tunnel under the intersection will notice much improve lighting installed by LES during the project.
Salt Creek Levee Trail Celebration
Saturday, June 4, was National Trails Day and the NRD decided to use the occasion to formally open the Salt Creek Levee Trail from Haymarket Park west over to 14th Street near the Devaney Complex and UNL Tennis Center. The trail had actually been open for several months, but a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held with representatives of the NRD, Lincoln Parks and Recreation, the Great Plains Trails Network, and the North Bottoms Neighborhood Association. It also marked a celebration of the impending retirement of Glenn Johnson, longtime head of the NRD. During his forty-four years with the NRD, he directed many major trail projects. Thank you, Glenn!
If you haven’t tried out this trail yet—do. It is paved, unlike the rest of the Salt Creek Levee Trail, and it links the Billy Wolff Trail to Haymarket and the arena. The NRD even posted a neat GoPro video on Instagram. At the ceremony Johnson also announced that plans are finally underway to extend the trail beyond 14th Street along the north side of the creek to 23rd and Cornhusker. Probably very few Lincolnites are aware, but there is actually a trail connection from the west side of 27th Street near the northern end of the viaduct that goes under Cornhusker Highway and crosses 27th Street and continues north to Superior. When the connection is complete, runners living or working in north-central Lincoln around North Star High School can connect to Lincoln’s entire trail system via the Antelope Valley system. Only one down side—you have to run right by the city’s sewer plant. Perhaps this is for a run when you have a cold.
Murdock Paving Project
The David Murdock Trail is a major link in our city’s outstanding trail network. Running almost 5 miles, the trail’s west end connects to the John Dietrich Trail at 48th Street, which provides access to downtown. From there it runs east along the south side of Ballard Park though the Havelock neighborhood. After 70th Street it runs along the north side of Mahoney Park, crossing 84th Street on an overpass that runs just south of the Lancaster Events Center. Much of the trail is limestone, and while some runners prefer the softer surface, this was one of the early in-town limestone trails and was not constructed as expertly as more recent projects. As a consequence it has been subject to considerable erosion, and in places the limestone has the consistency of sand. Biking and roller blades are difficult to ride on portions of this trail, and, of course, snow plows aren’t used in the winter months, effectively closing the trail for much of the season.
The Great Plains Trails Network is partnering with the city of Lincoln to raise funds to pave the section from 56th to 70th Streets. When completed, the new, improved trail will make running and biking in northeast Lincoln a year-round experience.
Down The Road
—Work continues in Pioneers Park to expand the trail that will become the Prairie Corridor project. Runners should notice new work extending the trail over the creek in the next few weeks.
—The Lincoln Children’s Zoo has announced plans for a major expansion of the zoo, generally in the area of the parking lot on the west side of the zoo off 27th Street. Current plans are to retain the Rock Island Trail through the zoo corridor, but expect construction detours during this process.
—You may have noticed the trail and underpass of Beals Slough on 56th Street south of Highway 2. This eventually will be a new trail, but the underpass had to be built now in connection with the long-delayed road-widening project.
—The city has announced plans for a complicated elevated roundabout at 14th Street, Warlick Boulevard, and Old Cheney. This project is several years from completion, but as presently planned there will be a trail connection on the north side of Old Cheney linking the Rock Island Trail at Old Cheney to the Jamaica North Trail west of 14th Street. If you have tried to run or bike between the two, you know it is not pleasant or safe. So when it is finally completed, access to Jamaica North will become easier.
See you on the trails!
Top photo: Salt Creek Levee Trail Celebration. (From right) Roger Hirsch, president of Great Plains Trails Network; Terry Genrich, Lincoln Parks and Recreation; Annette McRoy, North Bottoms Neighborhood Association; and Glenn Johnson, Lower Platte South Natural Resources District.