Bike path a bridge to health$1M project completed, connects Sandy Beach to Ramada Inn. Officials hope to encourage physical activity.
By: Chris Huber, The Daily Republic
Bike trails in Mitchell can now carry riders on more than six miles of pristine paths along the west side of the city. Signs and line painting near the Lake Mitchell part of the path were finished last week, and Mitchell Public Works Director Tim McGannon said it is now completely ready for use. The now connecting paths allow riders a smooth and comfortable trail from Sandy Beach on the northwest side of Lake Mitchell to the Ramada Inn on Havens Avenue.
The path takes riders meandering along the shores of Lake Mitchell and through areas flanked with magnificent trees before connecting with an already constructed bike path on the west side of Mitchell.
A small bridge that will span Firesteel Creek about one mile north of 23rd Avenue will be installed in the spring to put the finishing touches on the trail, but riders are free to use the path before that happens. That bridge is in rural Charles Mix County, and will be uprooted and brought to Mitchell in 2013.
McGannon called the path a great thing for the city and, said he thinks pedestrian and bike traffic will become more popular in the future.
“Outdoor recreation is big in Mitchell and anywhere else, and whatever we can do to get people outside is certainly great for our community,” McGannon said.
The approximately $1 million project was in the planning stages as early as 2007.
Half of the price tag came from federal funding, but that money also came with stipulations slowing some parts of the project.
“Sometimes, it’s hard to get to a point where everyone agrees,” McGannon said, noting he had to have plans approved by the several state and federal agencies.
Federal funding came with several stipulations while working on the path.
First, the city had to replace any wetlands that were damaged due to the building of the path; also, a small endangered fish called the Topeka Skinner, was not to be disturbed during the process.
The construction of the path took place in three phases.
Phase one was a path near the Lakeview Golf Course on Ohlman Street, which was completed in 2010.
It’s about 2,000 feet long.
Another phase called for a path starting at 23rd Avenue and Ohlman, following the railroad track through a rural area to the West End bridge. It’s about two miles long and is gravel. The bridge to be installed in the spring will be in this section.
The last phase to be completed runs from the walking bridge on the west side of Lake Mitchell north and east to the Sandy Beach area. It is a mile long and paved.
Once completed, those three phases connected with a path already in place that runs from the Ramada in to 23rd Avenue through the west end of town, McGannon noted.
“I don’t think this one is done yet, I think we will probably try to get it out to the soccer fields in the coming years,” he said.