The Great Plains Trails Network Connector Bridge Is Open!
After years of discussion, fundraising, planning, and construction, the bridge connecting the Rock Island Trail at Densmore Park over the railway tracks into Wilderness Park and connecting to the Jamaica North Trail is finally done. One of the most expensive and complicated trail projects in Lincoln history will open up many new routes for runners living in southwest Lincoln. But it is likely to become a destination run for many from other parts of the city with convenient parking in Densmore Park. It will also improve safety for runners and bikers, some of whom had illegally risked the dangerous crossing over the active railway lines.
The Rock Island Trail is already Lincoln’s most popular. Jamaica North runs from the downtown Haymarket Area south to become the Homestead Trail at the county line and then the Standing Bear Trail south of Beatrice, eventually leading to Marysville, Kansas. The connection also opens up Wilderness Park to greater access.
The bridge was to have been officially dedicated on November 8, 2020, but the ceremony had to be cancelled when the Covid-19 dial moved into the red “high danger” zone. Because the Great Plains Trails Network raised an extraordinary amount of private donations and grant money, the city decided to call the bridge The Great Plains Trails Network Connector Bridge. A trail plaza in Densmore Park has a map and trail guide, recognition of donors, and a water fountain. This is a new crown jewel in Lincoln’s extraordinary trail network. Special thanks to GPTN. If you do not belong to this great organization you should join. Visit them at gptn.org.
Repairs on the Tierra-Williamsburg Trail
Look for an ongoing project to repair problem areas on the Tierra-Williamsburg Trail in the coming months. Five different sections have been targeted beginning with the Tierra portion just south of Tierra Park. Regular users will have noticed the yellow “candle sticks” where the creek has eroded up to the trail, creating a sharp dropoff. In addition the trail itself has cracked. This portion is under repair. Other sections will be done over the next few months, weather depending. One section is on the Southpointe Trail where it intersects with the Williamsburg Trail. There is visible damage in this area and 4,000 square feet of trail will be replaced.
The Tierra-Williamsburg Trail is built in the drainage area through residential areas so the trail is subject to erosion. Although having a trail closed is an inconvenience, repairs are a fact of life.
Update November 20, 2020. The repairs to the Southpointe Trail near its intersection with the Williamsburg Trail have now been completed and the trail reopened. The beautiful weather we have had recently put the project on the fast track.
The Trains Are Coming!
For as long as most people can remember there have been no regular trains on the line that parallels Highway 2 on the south side. In the long interval since coal trains plied the tracks, south Lincoln has exploded with growth. So it may come as quite a shock when folks encounter delays for coal trains along every intersection from 14th Street east. The railroad says it will not be running the trains at rush hour and that they should pass through in a short period. But railroads’ track records (sorry for the pun) are really not very good at meeting those type of promises. If your running route takes you across one the many crossings, you should be prepared. Nothing is worse than finishing up a long run on a cold, windy day and then having to wait for a train. Fortunately runners (and bikers) have an alternative that drivers do not. The Rock Island Trail overpasses over Highway 2 and 27th Street will be a lifesaver. You will even be forgiven for feeling smug as you look down on the long lines of cars backed up on both sides of the tracks.
Lied Platte River Bridge Near South Bend
The Lied Platte River Bridge near South Bend has been closed since it was severely damaged in the March 2019 flood. Earlier this year the process of assessing damage and removing debris was begun. Repairs to the guard rail and ice breaker cones for the piers are also underway. The bridge opened for the Market-to-Market Relay on October 3, but unfortunately that was a one-off event. The connector trail on the Omaha side of the river must be rebuilt. The relay organizers made a temporary agreement with a private landowner. The bridge will officially reopen in 2021 when the connector trail is restored. FEMA is providing some funds for this project.
Beal Slough Trail
It is still in the planning stages, but the city expects to eventually complete the Beal Slough Trail to connect from 56th Street southeast to Yankee Hill Road near 70th Street. Parts of the project, including the underpass beneath 56th Street, were built with the reconstruction project on South 56th Street. This connection will link the Yankee Hill Trail with the Boosalis Trail.
Special thanks to Sara Hartzell and Bobby Bartja at Lincoln Parks and Recreation for their assistance. See you on the trails!