Archive for Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Committee reviewing Chieftain Trail

Construction on bicycle, walking path could begin later this summer

June 7, 2006

Plans have been made and designs drawn up, but the future of the Chieftain Trail now comes down to an environmental review committee.

Before construction can start on the new bicycle and walking path that will connect downtown to Chieftain Park, the project must first be approved by a group of 15 agencies.

Detailed descriptions of plans for the trail were sent out May 19 for assessment by the Kansas Department of Transportation. The plans will be reviewed by state and federal agencies such the Kansas State Historical Society and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The agencies will decide whether there are any negative affects to the surrounding environment caused by the trail.

Kathy Bard, assistant city administrator, said that the agencies typically responded quickly and that she expected to receive comments back within 30 days.

"It can go quickly or can take a long time; depends on what they come across," Bard said.

Besides a small creek on one part of the trail's path, Bard said the project didn't seem to be environmentally sensitive.

The agencies respond back with their recommendations that either delay the project until changes can be made or allow plans to move ahead. Bard said she would prefer construction start this summer if possible.

Once KDOT gets the all clear from the agencies, it also will do a field check and then finally authorize the city to advertise for a contractor.

To ensure this step is sped along, Brian Kinglsey, a principal at BG Consultants, said he made sure to submit a thorough report. BG Consultants is the city's engineering firm.

Kingsley said when most projects are submitted to KDOT they are about 60 percent done. To try to expedite this process, the report he submitted was about 95 percent done.

"I'm hoping the process will take a short path rather than a long path," Kingsley said.

He said the extra upfront work they did might save them time in the end. There are many factors that are involved with the planning of the trail such as meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act standards, which Kingsley said KDOT is taking very seriously.

"It's not just a sidewalk, it's a pedestrian facility," he said.

Kingsley will present the final plans for the project and, he said, and he hoped to have an update about the environmental review and field check at the next city council meeting June 12.

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