Changes Coming to the Murdock Trail
The Murdock Trail is a converted rail line that runs almost five miles through northeast Lincoln. It extends from 112th Street out in the country, west to 48th and Fremont Streets, where it connects to the John Dietrich Trail. Unlike all of the other commuter trails in the city of Lincoln, which are paved, the Murdock Trail east of 56th Street has mostly a limestone surface. While this is popular with many runners, it creates problems for bikers and other users. The limestone trails are not plowed during the winter months, which means they can be closed for extended periods. Roller boards can’t be used on the surface. The Murdock Trail has also had drainage issues that can create hazardous conditions.
The city of Lincoln and the Great Plains Trails Network undertook a campaign to fund an upgrade to this trail. Thanks to generous donors, the Lincoln Track Club, and the Jayne Snyder Trail bequest, a major rehabilitation of this trail will get underway this autumn on the stretch from 56th to 70th Street. The upgrade will be a unique experiment on Lincoln trails as most runners wanted to retain the limestone trail. A compromise was reached in which the limestone will remain but an adjacent concrete trail will be added. In some places on the west end of the project, the right-of-way is too narrow to accommodate the full width of both, so the concrete trail will encroach on the limestone portion, reducing its current width. There is ample room for both on the eastern section of the project. Once this project is complete, bikers, runners, and walkers should have access to the trail on a year-round basis with a little something for everyone. In addition, the rehabilitation project will improve the drainage issues on the Murdock.
This isn’t the only change coming to the Murdock Trail. East of the 84th Street overpass the trail heads out across Stevens Creek into what is considered “the country.” But the city has definitely crossed 84th Street. Immediately south of the trail and just north of Wal-Mart, an enormous apartment complex and some adjoining houses are under construction, greatly increasing the population in the area. To the north, the Lancaster Events Center is rapidly growing and will dramatically increase the size of its RV parking lot in the coming months to accommodate a major national rodeo event.
The RV lot is in the floodplain as is the only exit from it (north to Havelock). Safety regulations require a secure exit, so a paved road will be built out of the events center, south across the trail, and south toward Wal-Mart. This will be gated on both sides except in emergency situations and will prevent vehicles from using the trail, but it will provide access to runners, bikers, and walkers. Even now many residents from the apartments walk (often with a dog) on the Murdock, but in the future the usage of this trail should greatly increase.
Finally, farther down the road, the city has a plan to eventually build a trail along the floodplain of Stevens Creek south to the MoPac Trail. This is part of a goal of eventually having a green beltway around the city. In the future this rapidly growing part of Lincoln will have new running opportunities.
Update on the Mopact East
Speaking of limestone trails, for those who enjoy the MoPac East from 84th to 98th Street, good news. The final plans for the develop project being built along the entrance to the Hillcrest Country Club will not require a relocation of the MoPac Trail. And for the immediate future there are no plans to pave this section. That doesn’t mean you won’t notice some changes. A large number of housing units are being built on both sides of A Street and traffic in the area will increase substantially. Townhomes and upscale houses will be built on the north side of A Street initially and a project on the south side will be coming next.
The New Roundabout at Warlick, 14th Street, and Old Cheney: A Win for Runners and Bikers
You probably know that the city is planning to build an elevated roundabout at the intersections of Warlick, Old Cheney, and 14th Street. Construction is expected to take forever. (Not really, but it will seem like it.) What you may not know is that the original design had the Rock Island crossing Old Cheney at street level, as it is today. That street crossing is already a difficult one, especially during busy times. But with the roundabout the volume of traffic will increase and breaks in the traffic will decrease. When runners and bikers caught wind of the proposal during the early public forums, they put up a howl of protest, and it worked. For only a modest increase in the cost of the project, the Rock Island trail will now pass safely underneath Old Cheney.
There is a lesson to be learned: When new projects are brought online, the city typically has an open house to get feedback. If you see something you don’t like, make your wishes known early. We can make our voices heard.
Lincoln’s trail system continues to expand. The city wants visitors and new residents to take advantage of these facilities. A series of kiosks is being planned that will include maps and other information about trail connections. The first has just been put in place at Salt Creek Levee Trail at the Charleston Street pedestrian bridge. The map and other information will be added soon. Most runners have regular routes, but if you decide to explore some new territory, these kiosks will be a handy addition.
Speaking of the Salt Creek Levee Trail, it has been two years since the ribbon cutting for the long-delayed extension of this trail from the Haymarket Ball Park northeast to Nebraska Innovation Campus and the Antelope Valley Trail system at 14th Street. The concrete was barely dry before the old 10th Street vehicular bridge was torn town and a new one built. During this lengthy project, barricades have gone up closing that stretch of the trail underneath. It will still be a few weeks before the bridge is open to vehicles, but the city says that the trail underneath the bridge will be reopened shortly!