2007 to be the year Midland Trail extends to 31st

       The Midland Trail extension west of 21st Street has been delayed yet another year, but it should happen in 2007, according to Colorado Springs Parks Trails Coordinator Jeff Haley.
       Last spring, Parks had hoped to at least build the trail to 25th Street this year, only to be stymied by a variety of design and property issues.
       Nearly all of these have been worked out now. The last issue is finalizing an agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to fit an 8-to10- foot-wide trail along the south side of Naegele Road where it runs close to Highway 24, Haley explained.
       When that is in place - and he said it will be by spring 2007 - the city will start laying in trail west from the current 21st Street dead end all the way to 31st Street, he said. This would complete Phase 2 of the Midland Trail project.
       Although some minor changes could still occur, the alignment will be basically as follows (going west from the current end-point):
       The trail will cross to the west side of 21st, probably using a striped crosswalk. From there, south to Naegele, the city will build a sidewalk, varying from 6 to 8 feet in width (the narrower part occurring on the 21st Street bridge over Fountain Creek).
       At Naegele, the trail will continue as a sidewalk, following the south side of the street to its ending point at 25th Street. It will then strike out west through a patch of open land, find the south bank of Fountain Creek and follow it under the 26th Street bridge.
       West of the bridge, the trail will make a concrete low-water crossing (similar to a culvert) to the north side of the creek.
       After passing Vermijo Park, the route will bear northwest through open land behind the RV park and eventually back southwest through parts of that property (using easement/ right of way purchases) to a pedestrian bridge that will be built over Fountain Creek just east of 31st Street. This part of the trail will mostly be like the Phase 1 Midland Trail - which is 16 feet wide - 12 feet concrete and 4 feet crusher fines.
       The bridge will lead trail users to the intersection of Highway 24 and 31st Street, where Midland Trail users will cross 31st the way they presently cross at 8th Street. “Unfortunately, there isn't enough space available along Fountain Creek under 31st Street to put in the trail,” Haley said. “This is the best we could do at this time.”
       Phase 3, for which no construction plans are in place, will continue the trail along the south side of Fountain Creek up to Ridge Road, where it will become a sidewalk again north on Ridge and west on Colorado Avenue, then along a creekside easement in the Garden of the Gods Campground which will bring the trail to Manitou Springs city limits.
       Phase 1, chiefly following the abandoned Denver & Rio Grande Railroad right of way, was built in 2004 between 21st Street and America the Beautiful Park just east of I-25.
       When Phase 1 was completed in 2004, the city's announced goal was to extend it to 31st Street in Phase 2 in 2005. The Naegele matter is just one of the design and property questions that have slowed the timetable. Other issues have included negotiating easements and rights of way, working out flood plain issues, figuring out how to cross side streets and determining the best trail line to 31st.
       The long-range plan west of 21st calls for running the trail along Fountain Creek, but that proved unrealistic in the short term because of the impacts on the businesses facing onto Naegele, Haley said.
       Despite the narrowness of some of the 21st-to-31st stretch, equestrians will be allowed to ride their horses on it “at their discretion,” Haley said.
       He added that when the plans are finalized, the city plans to hold a public meeting before starting work “to make people aware of what we are contructing.”

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