Archive for Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Council to consider trails plan

October 6, 2010

After nearly a year in development, the Tonganoxie City Council will consider Monday a pedestrian and bicycle master plan that when fully realized will lace the community with a network of sidewalks, shared-use trails and on-street bicycle lanes.

The plan comes to the council from the Tonganoxie Planning Commission with a recommendation for approval.

Kevin Kokes, the city consultant planner with Bucher, Ratliff and Willis, said the adoption of the plan would accomplish a number of important things. It would put in a blueprint for future planning for sidewalks and trails and would reserve those corridors from development.

Another advantage of the master plan would be to reinforce funding applications to outside agencies, Kokes said. The plan already has contributed on that score with the August announcement the Kansas Department of Transportation approved a city of Tonganoxie $200,000 grant application for the second phase of Chieftain Trail, which would extend the 10-foot-wide pedestrian/bicycle trail north of U.S. Highway 24/40 to Laming Road and then east to the new post office, he said.

“When KDOT was considering that application and potentially awarding of funds, they wanted to see how that project would connect into a larger system,” Kokes said. “We feel that even though the draft plan was a work in progress, it served as a big plus in KDOT’s decision.”

The city council has yet to consider accepting the grant, which requires a 20 percent local match. Assistant City Administrator Kathy Bard said it was decided the council should first consider the trails master plan.

The planning commission didn’t start the master plan from scratch, Kokes said. Used as starting points were the safe-route-to-school plan that identified pedestrian and bicycle corridors from neighborhoods to schools and the part of the city’s downtown economic development plan, which established similar routes from neighborhoods to downtown.

“That was a starting point for what was appropriate citywide for pedestrian and bicycle corridors,” Kokes said. “But those two plans had a limited focus.

“We looked at convenient connectedness citywide. We looked at all potential users young and old and ways they might circulate on foot or bicycle. We looked at a lot of potential destinations — the fairgrounds, recreation areas, potential employment centers.”

Also considered were recreational use trails, such as those along Tonganoxie and Stranger creeks envisioned in the Leavenworth County portion of the Mid America Regional Count’s MetroGreen Regional Plan.

The master plan has no implementation schedule or price tag, Kokes said. It is contemplated the plan would take decades to be fully realized with the pace of development determining the schedule, he said.

As for its cost, the master plan is a general blueprint and doesn’t come with the detailed engineering needed for cost estimates, Kokes said. Factors such as the cost of retrofitting and widening older streets for bicycle lanes or trails and the city’s success in obtaining outside funding sources would also determine future costs, he said.

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