With the help of a $150,000 recreation trail grant, Jefferson City hopes to extend trail access points for cyclists and pedestrians across the city next fall.
Grant recipients will be notified in mid-summer. If awarded, it would allow the city to stripe bike lanes on Miller Street to connect the Wears Creek Greenway on the west side of town with Community Park near Lincoln University — ultimately creating an access point to the MKT Trail.
The Miller Street bike lanes would close an existing gap between the greenways.
City Engineer David Bange said factors that may increase the city's chances of getting the grant include the city's prior efforts to develop bicycle/pedestrian plans and the amount of public interest in connecting the greenways.
Last year, roughly 11,000 people used the Wears Creek Greenway along Edgewood in a month's time, according to Jefferson City Parks and Recreation data. The same report indicates 5,000-6,000 people use the pathways near Washington Park on a monthly basis.
Bange emphasized the project would capitalize on the opportunity to connect the pathways to the MKT Trail, which extends 237 miles across the state.
Ashley Varner, Healthy Schools Health Communities coordinator at Capital Region Medical Center, has been one of the city's key partners in emphasizing the need for more options for physical activity.
Varner said this would be a great opportunity to support and promote cycling for all ages.
"You could walk or run on the greenways, but we are most interested in getting more cyclists out on the greenways," Varner said.
A lot of adults may be hesitant to get back on a bike, she said, but Varner is prepared to host educational segments discussing how to use bike lanes and overall bicycle safety.
In addition to the greenway extension project, the city plans to add bike racks around the city this summer, placing four near the intersection of East Capitol and Jackson streets and two near the Jackson Street bus stop, as well as bike lanes from the Capitol all the way to Chestnut Street.
"Our hope is that the area along Capitol Avenue develops into a pedestrian/bike-friendly area," Bange said. "With the revitalization of the buildings, it could kind of be a model of how other places could support the cyclist/pedestrian atmosphere."