Scott Koperski Daily Sun News Editor
Whether you’re trying to get some exercise or just getting around town, Beatrice’s trail system has seen increased use as more and more people get outdoors during warmer seasons, with new additions planned for the future.
One of these planned additions would be adding a paved pathway near Beatrice High School.
Last September, Beatrice City Council voted in favor of applying for federal assistance from the Recreational Trails Program to expand Pioneer Trail from North 26th Street to South 24th Street, with hopes to begin construction this summer.
The trail section begins at the school and there are currently no sidewalks connecting the trail near the Gleason Dental Clinic and heading west into town.
“We have a grant that was submitted to Nebraska Game and Parks,” City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said. “We have not heard back on this request. (Municipal Engineer James Burroughs) has designed everything and is ready to go, we are just looking for funding.
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Tempelmeyer said the city would like to see the section completed, even if grant funds are not awarded.
“We would still like to see this moving forward,” he said. “We still have CDBG revolving loan funds available. A trail extension is an eligible activity, so we might transfer some of that money for that trail extension.
Last September, the project was estimated to cost around $110,000 and Beatrice would be responsible for around 20% of the total cost if the grant was awarded, with the trails program providing 80% of the funds.
Plans are still in their infancy, but another trail addition that many would like to see become a reality is a section connecting Beatrice to Homestead National Historic Park, about four miles west of town.
Last March, Beatrice officials approved a memorandum of understanding between the city, the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service and the Nebraska Department of Transportation to assist in the design and construction of a walking and biking trail linking Riverside Park to Homestead National Historical Park.
Tempelmeyer said preliminary designs are underway and the project is still in its early stages.
“Basically they’re working on the best way to get to Homestead from Riverside Park,” he said. “The National Park Service gave money to the Nebraska Department of Transportation and then hired Olssons to do this job. So far, they’ve come up with four possible alignments. Now the National Park Service, the city, and the Department of Transportation need to sit down and have another meeting and go over these different alignments.
Cost estimates vary widely depending on the material used and the width of the pathway, but Tempelmeyer said estimates for a 12-foot-wide concrete pathway could be as high as $4.5 million.
Fundraising for the proposed section of trail is also in its early stages, although Tempelmeyer said it has been discussed that a significant portion of the project will be funded by the federal government.
Beatrice City Council member Joe Billesbach said one issue being resolved is which side of the highway the trail should be on.
“I know they’re working on tender proposals or have ideas to try to figure out if it’s better to go north of the freeway or south of the freeway,” he said. -he declares. “The north side would cross quite a few other walkways. To the south it would be easier to walk a trail, but then you have to clear more trees through one of the crossings, so it’s kind of a stack or face.”
Comparable projects took more than eight years to complete, although Tempelmeyer added that it was too early to say how long it might be before a dedicated footpath connecting Beatrice to the NPS site was completed.
While future projects would add to Gage County’s trail landscape, Tempelmeyer added that the system already in place is used frequently and residents can be proud of it.
“I think we have a really good testing system in Beatrice, especially if you look at cities our size and what’s out there,” he said. “There are activities like cycling, walking and running, and you also see them connecting different areas of the community. Now it’s much easier to get to the YMCA, water park, and those types of areas. It’s easier to get around and gives you another transportation choice from where you are to where you want to go.
The area hosts several walking, running and cycling events, including an annual bike ride on the trails and gravel roads of southern Gage County.
In addition to his role on the board, Billesbach also hosts the annual Solstice Gravel Grinder event.
“I feel very lucky to have the trail system that runs through Beatrice, the Homestead Trail from Lincoln then turns into the Chief Standing Bear Trail through downtown toward Kansas,” he said. . This generates a lot of traffic. I talk to people all the time who take off from Lincoln and come down, stay overnight, or head to Marysville and come back up.
“Here in the city, I ride every day and I am always amazed at the number of cyclists, walkers, dog walkers and other people outside. It brings me great joy to see people enjoying the outdoors and the network of trails.