North Park Trail would connect Cape La Croix Trail, nature trails

Monday, March 15, 2010
Duane Lyon walks Saturday along the bike trail near the intersection of Lexington Avenue and Cape La Croix Road in Cape Girardeau. Lyon, of Willard, Ill., exercises on the trail daily, and said he is excited at the prospect of seeing the trail extended. (KRISTIN EBERTS)

The newest leg in Cape Girardeau's system of hiking and biking trails should be ready by late summer if the Cape Girardeau City Council tonight accepts the bidder recommended by city engineer Kelly Green.

The North Park Trail, which will link the Cape La Croix Trail to nature trails at County Park North, is being funded by a Missouri Department of Transportation enhancement grant of $383,700. The city will build almost one mile of the trail, with private developers of the Walden Park subdivision building the section that will wind past a pond on their property.

The city was happy with the negotiations that left construction of that portion of the trail to the developers, Green said.

"We didn't want to goof up their development plan," she said. "We just wanted to make sure it flows for us and works with their development plan."

When bids were opened last week, six companies submitted proposals ranging from $248,900 to $389,974. The low bidder, J.W. Transport LLC of Cape Girardeau, is the recommended contractor for consideration tonight. After $46,700 in engineering costs are deducted from the grant, the bid is well within the funds remaining to complete the job.

A sign marks the end of the existing bike trail near the intersection of Lexington Avenue and Cape La Croix Road in Cape Girardeau, Mo., on March 13, 2010. Cape Girardeau City Council will soon decide on a contractor to build a trail extension connecting the Cape La Croix trail to the nature trails at County Park North. (KRISTIN EBERTS)

Once the contract is also approved by the Missouri Department of Transportation, J.W. Transport will have 120 days to finish the work.

The trail will begin just south of Lexington Avenue, near a parking lot serving the four-and-a-half-mile Cape La Croix Trail. A low-water bridge will cross Cape La Croix Creek, then the trail will follow along the left bank of the creek northwest toward Walden Park. Bicycles are prohibited on the nature trails in County Park North, so the city will put a bicycle rack at the edge of the county park for those who wish to continue on foot, Green said.

Having a public trail across the development fits with the vision of Walden Park, developer Gerry Jones said. The neighborhood is being developed as a pedestrian-friendly, walkable community, he said.

"We have been very eager to get this thing going because it is a great amenity," he said.

The advantages of incorporating the trail into the development "far outweigh" any disadvantages of having non-residents in the neighborhood, Jones said.

"There are very few places in Cape where you can go and just walk right onto a trail," he said. "All of our residents will be able to walk out and jump right on it."

The new trail fits into a comprehensive city plan to make the community more friendly to bicyclists and pedestrians. With federal help, the city recently extended the river walk for a half-mile from downtown to Sloan's Creek. A $1.6 million federal earmark courtesy of U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., will build a bridge over the creek to the Red Star Access owned by the Missouri Department of Conservation. As Big Bend Road is rebuilt this year, new sidewalks will be added, including one along Bertling Street. With the bridge and sidewalks, a pedestrian or bicyclist would be able to travel from the downtown riverfront to the spot where the North Park Trail will begin. The Cape La Croix Trail follows the creek to the Shawnee Park sports complex south of Highway 74.

The next phase, not yet funded or planned, would be to link Shawnee Park to the riverfront, Green said.

"We are looking at how to complete that loop," she said. "That is our grand plan."

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

1780 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

2832 Walden Blvd., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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