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Morning Sun
  • Rails to Trails making progress

  • Although it seems work on transforming former railroads near downtown into hiking and biking trails has been in progress since 2005, the real work dates back decades.

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  • Although it seems work on transforming former railroads near downtown into hiking and biking trails has been in progress since 2005, the real work dates back decades.
    There are numerous obstacles to the project, making it difficult to turn rails into trails from First and Georgia streets to 11th and Broadway streets.
    “We’re just facing the standard obstacles that face a public-private venture,” said Todd Kennemer, Pittsburg assistant public works director. “Any time you deal with an old railway, you have to go back 100 years to get all the deeds. Those have passed from one train company to another. Some of those have gone out of business.”
    The project was designed to feature a 10-foot wide walking trail and signs warning traffic about the designation.
    As designed years ago, the project has received plenty of financial support. The project has netted grants through the Skubitz Foundation, the Sunflower Foundation and the Pritchett Trust.
    “We’ve hit some glitches and tried to get those taken care of first,” Kennemer said. “We started on this in 2005. All the street crossings are now paved.”
    The street crossings are some of the progress that has been made recently on the Rails to Trails project. Where the railroad trail once crossed the numerous streets, the railroad posts and rails have been removed and repaved.
    Kennemer also said all the signage and various markers have been bought to be used when the trails begin to get filled in sometime in the future.
    Further adding to the progress is help from Pittsburg State. Students in the Department of Construction Management are working on designs and implementation plans for creating a trailhead for the Rails to Trails project.
    Kennemer said the Pittsburg State project would be designed to not match exactly, but to fit the style of Europe and Immigrant parks. The trailhead will also serve as a northern entry into downtown.
    Ultimately, Kennemer couldn’t put a timeline on when the project would be completed, but said things are moving in the right direction.
    “It’d be nice to have it done by the spring or summer, but I thought that would be the case last year,” Kennemer said. “We’ve got four to five different groups involved. A lot of the problem is just getting everyone on the same page at the same time.
    “We’ll just have to piecemeal it at a time. We’ll do what we can when we can and where we can.”
    Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.

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