Well, after a long, snowy winter and a very wet spring, it is finally summer and construction season. The perfect storm of erosion and trail damage from our rough weather and a delayed construction season because of spring rains means that you are very likely to find you favorite trail marked with a trail closed or trail detour sign. Particularly hard hit has been the Billy Wolff South Trail. The stretch of the trail on the south side of Pioneers Boulevard between the underpass and Lucille Drive has been closed because of construction of a new building. The good news is that there is an easy detour—on the north side of the street simply use the sidewalk and cross at the light at Lucille Street.
A more difficult detour is farther south on the Billy Wolff—the stretch from Glynoaks Drive (just west of Sebastian’s Table) south under 84th Street and Old Cheney to just east of Fireworks. Both underpasses needed work to control flooding, and bank erosion by the golf course has compromised the structure of the trail, which has to be rebuilt farther away from the stream. The city has posted a detour route.
Changes in North Central Lincoln
If you bike or live in north central Lincoln, roughly from UNL’s East Campus east to Wesleyan and north to Superior Street, two major projects are in your future.
→The Dead Man’s Run Project. In the May general election, Lincoln voters approved the stormwater sewer bonds. This provides Lincoln’s share of the Dead Man’s Run flood control project. Most of the funding of the $25 million project and the construction and engineering work will be done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This project will be similar to, though smaller than, the Antelope Valley Project. Expect widening of the drainage channel, a stormwater detention basin west of Fleming Fields, and new bridges at 33rd and 48th Streets. This will impact both the Dietrich Trail and the East Campus northside trail.
→The Cornhusker Railway Safety Project (officially labeled the 33rd and Cornhusker Subarea Plan and Corridor Enhancement Plan). As anyone familiar with the area knows, the main rail lines on the south side of Cornhusker Highway are a major problem. An increase in the frequency and length of trains had made traffic blockages a serious inconvenience. The few over- and underpasses create traffic backup and congestion. The main issue for this project, however, is safety. The Railroad Transportation Safety District is the major force behind the project, which has been under discussion for four years. Ultimately it will involve major changes in the roadways, bridges, and trails in the corridor. For more details on this project see www.33rdcornhusker.com.
The final design of both of these projects is still fluid. At each stage various government agencies will have open hearings where runners can voice their concerns. Attend these open houses and contact city officials when you see pedestrian/biker issues being ignored. For instance, when the first tentative plans were made public for the railway safety project, the design would require the relocation of a popular diner on the north side of Cornhusker. The owner publicly complained and the newspaper and TV stations covered the protest. In local government, the squeaky wheel often gets greased. One design will close the street-level crossing over the railway tracks at 44th Street but possibly provide construction of a pedestrian/bicycle bridge. But if this bridge gets dropped in the final design, runners and bikers will have to take substantial detours. Make your voice heard!
In the Pipeline
The upgrade of the Murdock Trail from 56th to 70th Street has greatly improved this stretch. Unfortunately, the surface east of 70th Street is not in good shape with much of the limestone surface having eroded. The city is planning on putting down new material in the near future and smooth out the surface, although there are no plans to pave any part of this section. The trail surface needs to be upgraded before next year’s big national rodeo at the Lancaster Events Center. A large camping area will be developed on the north side of the trail.
→Users of the parking lot at the MoPac Trailhead at 84th Street might have noticed that the surface of the parking lot is in bad shape. The city hopes to repair the lot in the coming months. Although the city recognizes that parking is insufficient at this trailhead, there is no suitable land available to increase the number of parking stalls.
→The City Council approved the new park on the south edge of the Haymarket District. Parks and Recreation is designing the park to include a trail connector from the Arena Drive south to the Jamaica North Trail.
→A top priority for the city in the coming weeks will be to repair and replace cracked sections of the Superior Street Trail.
→Expect to see improvements to the surface of the Salt Creek Levee Trail on the section from A Street south to where it merges with the Jamaica North Trail. Some new base rock will be added and the surface graded.
The NRD reports that it appears that the Lied Platte River pedestrian/bicycle bridge suffered major damage in the March floods and might be closed through 2019.
Lincoln Parks and Rec has posted signage about how to handle encounters with Lincoln’s urban coyote population.
See you on the trails!
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