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Weather only thing holding back construction of new trails

April 26, 2018 GMT

The only hurdle facing the new North Fork Riverfront Trail Project is the need for a quick transition to spring-like weather.

Work on the project is set to begin in about two weeks, said Steve Rames, the City of Norfolk engineer, assuming that the recent cold, wet weather finally gives way to conditions more conducive to construction.

The trail will start north at the intersection of North Third and Elm streets, connect to First Street and loop around Johnson Park near downtown Norfolk and finish southeast by connecting to North Cottonwood Street.

“They’ve cleared some of the brush and larger trees,” Rames said during Tuesday’s open house on the project. “The only thing left is to get (the site) ready for paving.”

JEO Consulting Group of Norfolk is the engineering firm assigned to the project. Rames said the company is allotted 75 days for construction, which started about three weeks ago, so they have about 50 to 55 days left.

The trail is being made possible because of a grant by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. About 80 percent of the funds come from the grant, the rest being matched by city funds.

Rames said trails are important to the city and the community as a whole. Those with more robust trail systems tend to bring in more tourism and have a healthier citizenry.

“People forget that transportation is not just cars,” Rames said. “It’s many modes. We want to integrate trails and bike trails.”

Rames said that while there hasn’t been a lot of feedback received about the project, in general, most people support the trail system.

“I’m surprised by the age range of people who use the trails,” Rames said. “We generally get a lot of positive feedback.”

Rames said the city is attempting a series of projects to fill in small gaps throughout the existing trail system, and is working to get as many of those done as possible.

“We have a list of top 10 connecting projects,” Rames said. “We’re trying to get as much continuity as possible. We may not get all those done, but we’ll try to do as many as possible.”

Rames said the city is working on updating a trail plan, since the last time there was an update was about 10 years ago. There will be an updated map released in about a month, he said.