Bicycle trails springing forth

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New bicycle trails — or plans for new trails — are blooming across the country this spring.

The Seattle Times reports a section of the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County, Washington, will be opened on Saturday. It's just one of the trail projects I've read about in Montana, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, and all the way down the East Coast.

I discovered the unannounced opening of a 4-mile section of the Cedar River Trail (at left) in January, extending the bike path in the eastern Seattle 'burbs to 10 miles between Renton and Maple Valley.

The Centennial Trail in Snohomish County to the north becomes a 17.5-mile paved bike path connecting Snohomish, Lake Stevens and Arlington. Plans call for a 44-mile bike corridor between the Skagit County line and Bothel. At that southern terminus, cyclists can pick up the Sammamish Trail for cycling into Redmond or the Burke-Gilman into Seattle and beyond.

But it's just not in the Pacific Northwest where bicycle paths are being built. It's happening across the US.

The Heritage Trail in Billings, Montana, will get a 2-mile extension by June. In itself, 2 miles doesn't seem like a lot. But the bike path is part of an ambitious network of bicycle trails. Plans of the Billing's Heritage Trail call for construction of 30 miles of bicycle paths in 10 separate projects. The longest so far is a 6-mile trail linking Billings Heights with the Yellowstone River.

In Wisconsin, plans are in the works to pave the Badger State Bicycle Trail from the Illinois state line to the city of Madison. The target is next year.

In Missouri, the giant 225-mile Katy Trail that runs between St. Charles to Clinton could be extended another 75 miles into Kansas City if the Missouri Bicycle Federation gets its way. Planners are studying the Rock Island corridor as a possibility, although the railroad's current owners believe they can make the railroad work.


Many of the plans for bike paths are dependent on passage of the federal Transportation Equity Act (TEA-21). The massive public works project includes $242 million for bicycle facilities in different congressmen's districts across the US.

In the Northeast, a section of the Eastern Trail, a 55-mile bike path between Portsmouth, N.H., and South Portland, Maine, is awaiting funding from the bill. Like other bike paths, this one is being built in sections; the current one targeted for funding links Biddeford to Kennebunk.

The Eastern Trail is part of an even more grandiose project, the East Coast Greenway, which would run from Key West, Florida, to Calais, Maine. The group claims about 20% of the route is open.

Cyclists in Kansas are waiting to hear about passage of TEA-21, which would help pay for a 20-mile bike path along old Highway 10 near Lawrence.

The House of Representatives has approved the transportation plan, but it awaits action in the Senate. Provisions of TEA-21 and its status are available here.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2005/03/30/bicycle-trails-springing-forth/

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