Grindstone to Stephens Link Trail: Support Options 1 and 3

Columbia City Council is currently considering a trail project called the Grindstone to Stephens Link (aka Shepard to Rollins). This proposed trail is one of the few remaining projects planned to be funded by the GetAbout Columbia project and is critical for the connectivity of the entire trail system.

Map of Grindstone to Stephens Link Trail Options

Trail alignments

There are four different alignments proposed for this trail. PedNet Coalition’s Board of Directors recently approved a resolution supporting both Options 1 and 3. These trail alignments would cross property owned by the Altis family, who are open to Options 1 and 3.

Option 1 is a short east-west connector between Rollins Road and Bluffdale Drive, including a bridge to cross Hinkson Creek. Currently there is no way for people walking, biking or using a wheelchair to travel this short distance due to the creek.

Option 3 will start at the existing trail underpass near the intersection of Stadium and Old 63, and follow the creek north to intersect with Option 1. As Option 3 will follow the creek, it will be mostly flat. This trail will allow people walking, biking or using a wheelchair to avoid having to both climb and descend the large hill on Old 63. Large hills are a major barrier to non-motorized transportation and the use of the trail system. The GetAbout funding is required to be used for infrastructure projects that will encourage mode shift away from motor vehicles to non-motorized transportation. Option 3 will serve this role by making it easier to travel north-south in this area by completely avoiding the hill.

PedNet does not support Option 2 or Option 4.

Option 2 would force all east-west travelers to climb up a bluff to the top of the Old 63 hill. The trail itself would have to be built as multiple switchbacks to climb the steep ascent. This would require major tree removal to allow heavy equipment into the area to build the switchbacks. Option 2 also does not provide for north-south travel and is opposed by the property owners.

Option 4 would add a bike/pedestrian bridge on the side of the existing road bridge along Stadium. People walking, biking or using a wheelchair would still be in close contact with heavy, high-speed traffic along Stadium. While a bike/pedestrian bridge would be an improvement to the road facilities in this area, this alignment is not a trail and would not encourage mode shift. Similar to Option 2, it also does not provide for north-south travel.

Connectivity

Parks and Recreation Trails Plan

Parks and Recreation Trails Plan

Options 1 and 3 will fill a gap in our extensive but incomplete trail network. Several trails converge near this area, but they are not connected.

Option 1 will connect the downtown and MU campus area to neighborhoods east and north of Old 63. Currently these areas of the city are separated by the Hinkson Creek, which creates a barrier to non-motorized travel.

Option 3 will connect the Grindstone Nature Area to Stephens Lake Park. Grindstone Nature Area is at the intersection of two trails: the Hinkson Trail and the Grindstone Trail. From Grindstone Nature Area, trail users will be able to follow Option 3 north along the creek to reach Stephens Lake Park or the Hominy Trail via the Moon Valley connector.

Ultimately, Options 1 and 3 will allow people using non-motorized transportation to cross the entire city (from the Katy Trail in the southwest to MKT to MU Recreational Trail to Hinkson Trail to Moon Valley to Hominy Trail).

Environment

The alignments for Options 1 and 3 follow an existing easement for both gas and sewer lines. The installation of the sewer lines in the 1950s and 1980s required extensive tree removal and environmental disruption. As a result, few mature trees would need to be removed for the construction of the trail. In fact, both Options 1 and 3 would largely follow an existing soft surface trail currently used for gas and sewer maintenance vehicles.

PedNet is supportive of efforts by the City of Columbia to purchase the Altis land for environmental preservation and restoration. Parks and Recreation has existing funding for the purpose of land acquisition for environmental preservation, and we recommend using these funds to purchase the Altis tract as part of the trail development.

Get involved:

  1. Attend the trail Interested Parties meeting on Monday, January 26, 2015, 6:30-8pm at Shepard Elementary and submit comment supporting Options 1 and 3. (If you’re not able to attend, you can submit comment online afterwards.)
  2. Attend the City Council public hearing where the trail will be voted on. We don’t have a date for this yet, but we expect it to be around March. (If you’re not able to attend, you can send an email in support to the City Council members.)