Interim Midland Trail extension will use city streets from 21st to 25th

       Until this year, Colorado Springs Parks' extension of the Midland Trail was to include a segment paralleling Naegele Road between 21st and 25th streets.
       The continued evolution of the state's Westside Highway 24 expansion plans - which would eliminate Naegele altogether - has changed that plan, City Parks trails coordinator Jeff Haley explained in a recent interview.
       The city now plans to use signage to direct hikers and bikers along city streets for about six blocks. Going west from the current Midland Trail terminus at 21st Street (a half-block south of Cucharras Street), they would cross 21st, jog up to Cucharras, follow it to 25th, then go south on 25th to its bridge over Fountain Creek. Horseback riders, permitted on the current Midland Trail, would be discouraged or not allowed.
       From that point west to 31st, the city's plans are basically unchanged. New trail would follow the south bank of the creek under the 26th Street bridge (that much is different) and past the Vermijo Park ballfield, where it would cross the creek, travel northwest around the RV park and finally circle through part of it to the intersection of 31st and Highway 24.
       It is not certain how soon this work will get started. “We'd like to do a portion of the construction in 2007, but it may not be till spring 2008, based on how plans go along,” Haley said. Design points to be worked out include bank stabilization along the creek section and sidewalk/crossing issues in the area of the current Midland Trail end point.
       A public informational meeting will be held before construction starts, he said.
       The segment from 21st to 31st is called “Phase 2” in the city's Midland Trail plans. It has been anticipated since Phase 1, between America the Beautiful Park and 21st Street, opened in the summer of 2004.
       Until a year or so ago, the city was also holding meetings with property owners along Naegele, with the idea of obtaining easements for Phase 2 along either Fountain Creek (behind the businesses) or between the frontage road and Highway 24. The latter plan was still the intent, Haley told the Westside Pioneer last fall. The main hold-up at the time was a right of way with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
       But as the greenway element of CDOT's highway expansion plans took shape at meetings this winter and spring, Haley said, “That's when we stepped aside a little bit.”
       City Parks has since participated with CDOT and other area government staff people on 24/greenway plans that call for the Naegele area, from the highway to Fountain Creek, to be purchased through eminent domain and turned into public open space. Part of that area would become the permanent route of the Midland Trail, according to plans, at least between 21st and 25th.
       Although unopposed to such a future alignment, Haley noted that there's no telling how soon it will happen. “By all indications, it will be several years before anything occurs,” he said.
       Rather than wait, City Parks, which has the necessary funding for Phase 2, would rather provide users with some kind of trail link now. “Even if it's just three years of use, it makes it worth it,” Haley said. “It's been anticipated by the public, and it will be a nice amenity.”
       According to Haley, parts of the Phase 2 project could get started this year, depending on how speedily design efforts go.
       A big plus, should the CDOT highway plans come to pass, would be new bridges that would allow the trail to go under them (for example, at 31st, where the crossing otherwise would be at the intersection with 24), Haley said.

Westside Pioneer article