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Columbia seeks federal grant for trail system expansion plan

Sunday, April 8, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:52 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

The City of Columbia has identified three trail projects for which it hopes to win federal money through a competitive grant program.

The trail projects along Hominy Branch, Hinkson Creek and Bear Creek are among a total of six projects city staff identified as eligible for federal Surface Transportation Program money, which is administered by the Missouri Department of Transportation. A staff recommendation on which three projects will be submitted for federal money will be considered during a public hearing before the City Council on April 16.

The majority of the projects considered would expand and connect existing trails.

“We have applied over the years regularly as a city for these funds,” Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood said. “We have received funding for several trail projects in the past, and hopefully the program is another source of funding to help expand our trails program.”

Last year, the city received $120,000 for the Hinkson Creek Trail and $300,000 for a pedestrian project along Range Line Street. Those two projects were among 14 in central Missouri that were awarded money.

Staff from several city departments worked together to identify the six potential projects, Planning and Development Director Tim Teddy said. In the end, the city staff recommended three it felt would mostly likely rank well with the Transportation Department’s selection committee.

“We try to identify those projects that are the highest need and have the type of criteria that match up best with the program,” Hood said. “Those have the best chance of getting selected.”

Teddy said there are different categories of projects eligible for enhancement money. Columbia will apply in the Bike and Pedestrian category.

The money first became available in August 2005 through the federal Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users program.

Applications are due to the state by May 16. The Transportation Department will rate the proposals and award the money in August.

Fred Schmidt, policy coordinator for the PedNet Coalition, said that group likes the city’s choices.

“All three of those are part of the trail master plan,” he said, adding that the city has been successful with the program in the past because of its overall plan and vision for creating a pedestrian and bicycling network.

“When people see the pieces coming into place, I think they’ll be really impressed,” Schmidt said.

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