Inspired by Beloved City Rail-Trail, Kansas Keeps on Rolling

Posted 05/16/13 by Kelly Pack in America's Trails, Success Stories

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Another Midwestern metropolis doing great things to improve its bike- and walkability - Kansas City.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy was contacted recently by the office of newly-elected Mayor Mark Holland, who, just a few short weeks into the job has expressed an interest in continuing the development of KC's burgeoning trail system.

At the heart of that system is the Riverfront Heritage Trail, a 10-mile paved rail-trail and bike and pedestrian pathway that begins at the riverfront and winds through Kansas City on both sides of the border. Its utility has so impressed community leaders in KC that there is energy to expand the Riverfront Heritage Trail, and its value to the community has inspired the completion of a number of other trail projects in the state, some of which are set to open in the coming months.

The Meadowlark Trail has been in development since the 1990s, but it looks like it's finally set to open after nearly two decades of work. The corridor wasrailbanked in 1997 by Central Kansas Conservancy, which has been negotiating with local landowners on the trail's construction since that time.

The Meadowlark Trail will connect with the existing Valkommen Trail (right) in Lindsborg, which occupies another rail corridor which was preserved for trail development by the railbanking process. In the future, the Meadowlark Trail will connect with the planned Sunflower to Santa Fe Trail in McPherson, which when complete will run for more than 30 miles west to Marion.

As if this isn't enough, the Southwind Rail Trail is also set to open in June. The Southwind Rail Trail runs for about 6.5 miles between Iola and Humboldt, and is being worked on by the Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, which railbanked the corridor in 2011. In Iola, the trail will connect directly to the existing 50-mile Prairie Spirit Rail-Trail.

Not only is it terrific to see Kansas' leaders supportive of investing in bike and pedestrian infrastructure which makes the region a more attractive place to live and do business, it is also great to witness the railbanking process in action - preserving America's disused rail corridors as assets for the American people.

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