Grant in hand, City Parks thinks this is the year it can extend the Midland Trail

       For each of the past five years, Colorado Springs Parks has been hopeful that planning and finances could come together to allow an extension of the Midland Trail that was built from America the Beautiful Park to 21st Street in 2004.

Bicyclists cruise along the existing Midland Trail between America the Beautiful Park and 21st Street.
Westside Pioneer photo

       That seems at last to be the case. Fortified with a $590,000 grant last fall from Greater Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), the city now plans to at least start on the segment from 21st Street to Manitou Springs by this fall, according to City Parks trail specialist Jeff Haley.
       The grant was actually a combined application by Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, with the former designated to oversee all the construction, including about a quarter of a mile into Manitou (up to Beckers Lane).
       The thinking was that a two-city application gave the project the kind of regional scope that GOCO likes; also, with the city limits at Fountain Creek occurring within the Garden of the Gods Campground, it makes more sense to have just one entity managing the project, explained Aimee Cox, who is a City Parks grant writer as well as a Manitou City Council member.
       Regionally, the long-range goal is to have a trail, following Fountain Creek much of the way, that goes all the way from downtown Colorado Springs to downtown Manitou. Portions of a creekside trail in Manitou have already been built, with work starting this week on a project to build a new, paved segment west of Beckers Lane and up to Schryver Park, Cox said.
       According to Colorado Springs Parks Development Director Chris Lieber, the Midland Trail is important because it “provides direct access to work centers, neighborhoods, shopping centers and many of the area's best outdoor attractions.”
       In addition to the GOCO grant, the project from 21st to Beckers Lane is being funded by a previously awarded $600,000 federal grant, $25,500 from Manitou Springs' open-space funds and $1.1 million from Colorado Springs' Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) fund, Lieber said.
       After 2004, the city believed it had sufficient funds to finish the project, but as delays occurred (chiefly because of design and easement issues,) costs went up, Haley has previously explained. The city applied for the GOCO application last summer,
       In Colorado Springs, the trail will use sidewalks for part of the distance (21st to 25th Street and along parts of Ridge Road and Colorado Avenue). In future years, assuming the Highway 24 expansion project is built, the city expectation is that those segments can be turned into trail.
       Other parts will require construction. West of 25th, the trail will go under the 26th Street bridge, where a path will be installed for that purpose, then it will mainly follow Fountain Creek to 31st, where people will need to cross at street level. New trail will also be built along the creek from there to Ridge Road, where it will become a sidewalk again north on Ridge and west on Colorado Avenue, then along a creekside easement through the Garden of the Gods Campground.
       The 2004 portion of the Midland Trail chiefly follows the abandoned Denver & Rio Grande Railroad right of way, with street crossings at Eighth and Chestnut streets. The overall trail distance from America the Beautiful Park to Beckers Lane is about five miles.

Westside Pioneer article