COLUMBIA — Rain has delayed construction on bridges 12 and 13 along the MKT Trail, a mile and a half east of the Scott Boulevard trailhead.
Rising creek water has kept the contractor, Houf Construction, from work for two weeks. Before construction started in January, the roughly 100-year-old bridges were deemed unsafe by the Parks and Recreation Department because of rotting and deterioration.
- The MKT Nature and Fitness Trail connects the Katy Trail to middle Columbia.
- The MKT Trail links to the Katy Trail at mile 169.9, west of McBaine.
- The Katy Trail stretches across most of Missouri.
- Some of the Katy Trail follows Lewis and Clark's path up the Missouri River.
“We need a good two to four weeks of dry weather, and we’ll be done,” Parks Services manager Mike Griggs said. Construction vehicles use the trail to get to the bridge sites and are unable to do so if there is flooding. Griggs had no doubt that the construction would be done if there had been dry spring weather.
There are two ways to avoid being stopped by construction along the trail.
"If the water is down, people can use the trail," Griggs said. Currently, there are alternate routes on the trail to get across Hinkson Creek during low water. Because construction goes on during weekdays, it's best to use that part of the trail during evenings or weekends, Griggs said.
There also is a detour that allows people to avoid the construction. The detour takes trail users onto Forum Boulevard, Nifong Boulevard and then onto Scott Boulevard past the construction to rejoin the trail.
"We really prefer to keep people on the trail as much as we can," Griggs said. The detour route is long.
The best thing, Griggs said, is to monitor updates on construction and detours on the Parks and Recreation website's trail directory.
There are still four miles of trail between downtown and the bridge construction for residents to walk, bike or run.
About three miles down the trail from downtown, trail users will find signs explaining why the construction is being done and rough estimates of the time it will take. Another mile down the trail — just before the construction site — there is a blue gate across the trail.
“I’m all for making trails better in the community,” trail user Phyllis Field said. After moving to Columbia a year and a half ago, Field and her husband walked the trail every Sunday afternoon last summer, and they plan to do the same this summer. Field said she knew little about the construction since she didn’t usually go that far down the trail.
Trail user Jim Green is glad to see the construction being done because it will add to the usefulness of the trail. “We want the bridges to be in good shape,” Green said.
Making repairs to the bridges would have cost $147,000, but Parks and Recreation elected to replace them at an estimated cost of $503,000, most of which will come from parks sales taxes.
Griggs encourages MKT trail users and participants in upcoming events, such as the Pedalers' Jamboree on Saturday and Sunday, to keep updated on the construction process with photos and information at the Columbia Park Blog.