Trail Ramblings: Now, The Waiting Game.

Patience, and keeping your eyes on the goal is what bike riders in Lincoln and the surrounding area must practice. We have two important additions to trail systems funded, and now we must wait. For proper timing in one case, and an acceptable route in the other.

The first is the bike underpass at Old Cheney and the Rock Island Trail. In today’s Lincoln Journal Star is an article by Margaret Reist outlining the timeline and complications of the project. Funding was secured in the federal bi-partisan infrastructure bill which includes money for states to reduce carbon emissions. Construction of the underpass now has to wait to coordinate with the redesign and construction of the Old Cheney, Warlick, and S.14th St. intersection to the west of the trail crossing, expected in 2026 or 27. What stands out to me is the high volume of riders on the Rock Island Trail, which will also be getting widened from A St. to the Boosalis Trail along Nebraska Parkway. The LJS article quotes Lincoln Parks and Rec’s. Allison Speicher giving trail counter numbers of up tp 65 users an hour during the week and over 100 an hour on weekends. That, along with ever greater motor traffic on Old Cheney, makes completion of the underpass a real necessity. Of course the same problem exists on the Tierra Williamsburg Trail where it crosses Old Cheney further east, but that will have to wait.

The view from the Platte River Bridge.

The second addition to the area trail system will be the completion of the gap in the MoPac Trail from Wabash to The Platte River Bridge. I attended one of the meetings last week at Grandpa’s Woods near Wabash to hear what people were saying about possible routes. Mainly, area residents seemed concerned that the trail cross the fewest driveways possible.
I wish some Western Iowa trail neighbors could have been present to talk about the tourism impact trails such as the Wabash Trace Nature Trail have made (yes, I know the similar names are confusing.) That trail stretches from Council Bluffs to the Iowa-Missouri border. Towns like Silver City and Malvern benefit from that trail. Most of the local residents present at the meeting had difficulty fathoming that enough cyclists would ever be passing through to warrant such a trail, citing that they rarely see any. This is a common refrain because cyclists are smaller and quieter than cars, and often go unnoticed. Also, the Wabash end of the Mopac, not continuing through, currently sees less traffic for that same reason. I believe some who would use it currently are put off by the hills and gravel roads that make up the 8 mile gap route. Northeastern Cass county is reportedly going through a building boom which will only add to more people using the trail in the future. The Omaha and Lincoln area along with Western Iowa has a large enough cycling population to supply riders. Also it’s location on the Great American Rail Trail will draw more cycling tourists. I think this is a Clear case of “if you build it they will come.”