Tonganoxie officially opens Chieftain Trail expansion
As Tonganoxie City Administrator Nate McCommon put it, city amenities don’t just happen out of nowhere.
McCommon spoke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony early Friday evening to officially open the second phase of Tonganoxie’s Chieftain Trail.
Local officials were among those gathered for the ceremony at Magnatech Park. The second phase, at 1.3 miles, extends and doubles the first phase, a 1.2-mile sidewalk trail that connects downtown to Chieftain Park and VFW Park.
The sidewalk trail extension, as McCommon noted, was in the works since 2010.
And, he said, it allows for a safer connection to the northeast portion of the town.
The trail extends along County Road 5 underneath U.S. Highway 24-40 and reaches to the Urban Hess Business Park area.
Mayor Jason Ward spoke about the importance of the community coming together to make the project a reality.
He noted the Kansas Department of Transportation grant also was crucial.
The KDOT grant covered 80 percent of construction costs. Tonganoxie was responsible for the other 20 percent plus planning costs. KDOT covered about $974,000 and the city about $234,500.
King’s Construction of Oskaloosa built the extension, including a walking bridge that parallels the County Road 5 bridge near Magnatech Park and VFW Park.
“Let me tell you folks, they worked their butts off,” Ward said about the construction company and getting the project finished on time.
Ward thanked all those who helped with the trail. He made special mention of the late Kathy Bard, former assistant city administrator.
He said she was involved in the School Routes to School program and played an integral role in the early planning of the trail expansion.
Bard died in July 2012 after a seventh-month battle with lung cancer.
“I know Kathy is looking down on us today proud as punch that this has come to fruition,” Ward said.
Leavenworth County Commissioner Bob Holland was on hand for the ceremony, as were representatives from BG Consultants.
Kevin Otterman with the Leavenworth County Trails Committee also spoke.
He said the extension is one more step in connecting Leavenworth County towns to each other. Though that stage still is down the road a bit, Tonganoxie already is a shining model for trails.
Walkscore.com evaluates walkability of communities across the country. Basehor has a score of 14 and Leavenworth 28. Baldwin City’s score is 49.
Tonganoxie comes in at 62 out of 100 possible points.
“That’s very impressive,” Otterman said.
Keyta Kelly, organizer for the Kirby McRill 5K Walk, spoke to the crowd before the official ribbon cutting.
The walk, which will start at 7 a.m. June 21, will utilize the expanded Chieftain Trail and benefit Habitat for Humanity.